No gallows for killer of two kids: Apex court

September 7th, 2010 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) A man, who underwent 20 years of imprisonment for lynching two children, will not be sent to the gallows, the Supreme Court has said while upholding the trial court’s verdict of awarding him death sentence earlier.
The death sentence of Ajit Seth was converted to 20 years’ imprisonment by the Delhi High Court and the convict was set free after completing his sentence in April.

While refusing to send the convict to the gallows at this stage, the Supreme Court said: “This is indeed a sorry case and indicates the hardship and inequity that can ensue to an accused, the prosecution and the victims in the case of a delayed trial or the delay in the disposal of an appeal.”

An apex court bench of Justice Harjit Singh Bedi and Justice C.K. Prasad said this while dismissing recently an appeal by the Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court verdict converting the death sentence awarded to Seth into life imprisonment.

Seth was sentenced to death by the trial court for burning to death two children Sunny Arora aged seven and Shikha Arora aged three and a half years more than two decades ago.

He was under the impression that both the children were passing on information to their father about his illicit relationship with their mother Indu, a co-accused.

The trial court convicted and sentenced Seth relying upon the dying declarations made by the children. However, the mother of the deceased children was let off.

The trial court reasoned that the case fell in the category of rarest of rare cases saying that the murders were “pre-mediated; the manner of commission of murders was brutal and diabolical and shocks judicial conscience as the two innocent children were roasted alive”.

The court further said that the “accused was in a position of domination and trust vis-a-vis the two deceased children… the accused killed the two children for the selfish motive of possessing his women which exhibits his depraved mentality and meanness”.

However, Delhi High Court disagreed with the award of death sentence and held that Ajit Seth would undergo life sentence of 20 years without any remission and including the sentence he had already undergone. The high court pronounced its verdict Oct 1, 2001.

In 2002, the Delhi government filed an appeal challenging the high court judgment. Two years later the appeal was allowed. It came to be decided Aug 17, 2010, when the apex court passed this order.

In the meantime, Seth completed his 20 years’ life imprisonment and was also set free. He was released in April 2010.

While dismissing the appeal by Delhi government, the apex court said: “We endorse the finding of the trial Court that the crime committed by the respondent (Ajit Seth) was indeed barbaric and called for no mercy…”

However, the court said that since Seth had already completed his sentence of 20 years and has been released, it would be a complete travesty of justice and unjustified to send him to the gallows at this stage.

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