New Delhi: Dara Singh, convicted for
burning alive Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two
minor sons in January 1999, has approached the Supreme Court
seeking review of its judgement upholding life imprisonment to
The petition, filed through his lawyer Shibu Shankar
Mishra, sought review of January 21 verdict in which the apex
court upheld the Orissa High Court verdict which had commuted
his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Dismissing CBI`s plea for death penalty to Singh, a
bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan endorsed the
Orissa High Court`s finding that his crime did not fall under
the rarest of rare category.
On May 19, 2005, the Orissa High Court had commuted to
life imprisonment the death penalty imposed by the sessions
court on Singh for the murder of Staines and his sons --
Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6.
The Staines family was burnt alive in Keonjhar
district in Orissa. Staines had worked with leprosy patients
in Orissa for 30 years. He was sleeping with his sons on a
cold January night when a mob in Manoharpur village poured
petrol over his car parked in front of the village church and
They tried to escape but the mob of about 50 people
allegedly prevented them.
Singh had filed an appeal challenging his conviction
and the life sentence awarded to him. The appeals were
admitted by the apex court in October 2005.
The CBI had sent up for trial a total of 14 accused,
including a minor, who was tried separately by a juvenile
court for the gruesome killings on January 22-23, 1999.
The rest 13 were tried by an additional session judge
at Khurda in Keonjhar district of Orissa, which had awarded
death penalty to Singh and life term to others in September
2003. Singh had links with Hindu right-wing outfit Bajrang
The Orissa High Court, however, on May 19, 2005, had
commuted the death penalty awarded to Singh to life
imprisonment, while upholding life term for Hembram.
The high court had also acquitted 11 others who had
been awarded life terms by the trial court in the case.
CBI approached the apex court also challenging
acquittal of others.