Additional Sessions Judge Gurdeep Singh sentenced the five expressing "shock" that people believed in superstitions in today's scientific age.
"It is not only shocking but also pitiable that citizens of the country who are living in the capital are still ignorant, superstitious and backward in thinking as they were hundreds of years ago," said ASJ Singh.
In the case in hand, convicts Pammi, Pintu, Suresh, Raju and their sister Santosh Kumari, all residents of Sultan Puri in North West Delhi, blamed Kamla and her sister Shanti for practising witchcraft that resulted in death of their mother and that of Pammi's wife.
On July 20, 2007, they set them on fire leading to Kamla's death and causing severe burns to Shanti.
While pronouncing the sentence, the court expressed shock that even the denizens of the national Capital were gripped in superstitions and added "there is no future of a country where there is lack of education which does not develop scientific thinking amongst its people."
Expressing surprise over the existence of the superstition, the judge observed, "One keeps hearing a woman in the remote area of Bihar, UP or MP is killed by the villagers under a belief that she is a churail (witch) but similar beliefs being prevalent in the urban society shocks the conscience."
The court, however, refused to award capital punishment to the convicts saying the crime was committed due to "ignorance and backwardness."
"Although killing a woman in cruel manner like burning is grave and heinous, yet the mitigating circumstance are their social economic background and lack of education.
Therefore, this case does not fall under the category of rarest of the rare cases," it said.
New Delhi: A Delhi court has sentenced five members a family to life imprisonment for killing their aunt by setting her ablaze, suspecting that she practised witchcraft.
First Published: Sunday, September 02, 2012, 10:55