Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court on Thursday reduced the death sentence awarded to a woman serial killer by a fast track court to life imprisonment.
A division bench headed by Justice DV Shylendra Kumar reduced the sentence on a criminal appeal filed by Mallika challenging the order awarded by the court at Tumkur on March 24, 2009.
It is a normal practice that any death sentence would have to be confirmed by the high court. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Mallika and in case of default, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year.
Observing that though there was circumstantial evidence, there was no direct proof against her and though she had committed murders for gain, it does not come under the category of "rarest of rare cases to be accorded death sentence", the court modifying the order.
Mallika, who had several aliases such as Lakshmi, Jayamma, Savithramma, Shivamogga Kempamma was awarded death penalty for murdering an elderly women. 47-year-old Mallika poisoned six women to death in the past decade. She used to loiter around temples and pick up her victims from among female devotees.
She was arrested by Bangalore city police on December 31, 2007 on a tip off. She revealed startling details of the murders she had committed during questioning.
Out of the five murders, including one committed in Tamil Nadu, four were registered as mysterious.
The modus operandi of Mallika was that she used to pose herself as a pious lady, well acquainted with religious rituals. She used to befriend women devotees, belonging to rich family background who were frequenting the temples.
She would gain their confidence by recommending rituals to overcome their bad times. She would say that a particular ritual should be done by her at a temple.The venue was chosen with care to ensure that it was far from the victim`s place. She then would mix cyanide in their food and then decamp with their valuables.