Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Former President Pratibha Patil pardoned seven rapist- murderers !

Before demitting office in June 2012, Past President of India Pratibha Patil had pardoned seven rapist-murderers, who were awarded death penalty by the sessions courts - and those death sentences were upheld by the respective State High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. But Pratibha patil accepted their mercy petitions on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs, then headed by P. Chidambaram. 

These criminals are Bandu Baburao Tidake (Karnataka), Dharmendra Singh, Narendra Yadav, Bantu and Satish (Uttar Pradesh); Molai Ram, Santosh Yadav (Madhya Pradesh). 

Read their crimes herebelow-

(1) Molai Ram and (2) Santosh Yadav (Madhya Pradesh): Santosh Yadav was serving a rape sentence in the Central Jail, Rewa (MP). He was asked to do some work in the garden of the jail quarters. Molai Ram was on duty as a guard at jailor R.S. Somvanshi's quarter on 20 February 1996. Jailor Somvanshi's daughter Naveena (16) was alone at home as her father had left for work while her mother had gone to her parents' house along with her son. The two raped Naveena, a student of Class X. After raping her, they killed her and threw the body in a septic tank in a nearby cattleshed. Her body was recovered the next day. It was found that she had died of strangulation and stab injuries. The two were given death in 1999. Pratibha cancelled the death punishment.

(3) Satish (UP): In August 2001, Satish raped a six-year-old girl Vishakha and then killed her. The girl, a student of Meerut's Sarvodaya School, had left home for school on 16 August 2001, but did not return. Her body was discovered from a sugarcane field the next morning. Satish was seen by eyewitnesses as riding a bicycle with the little girl seated on the handlebar the day the girl disappeared. The case was considered to belong to the "rarest of rare category" and Satish was given a death sentence in February 2005.

(4) Bandu Baburao Tidke (Karnataka): Tidke was a sugarcane cutter in Maharashtra's Beed. He came to Huliyala in Karnataka's Bagalkot district in 2002 where he stayed at an ashram, posing as a swami. The same year, he dragged a 12-year-old school girl to his room, raped her and killed her. He then escaped to Shirdi, leaving her body there. He was arrested the same year. He was given the death sentence in 2005 by the Bagalkot district court and sent to Hindalga jail in Belgam. Patil took the decision to pardon him in June 2012. 

(5) Bantu (UP): In this case the victim was a five-year-old girl, Vaishali. On 4 October 2003, one Naresh Kumar, his brother Vishal and niece Vaishali were attending a "Devi Jagran" in village Basai Khurd in Agra district. Naresh Kumar's neighbour Bantu was there too. He took out the child saying he would give her a balloon. When Vaishali did not return for a long time, a search was launched for her. Vaishali and Bantu were found next to a pond at 9.30 pm. Bantu was caught in a naked state. He had raped and repeatedly tortured Vaishali in the worst possible way. She was rushed to a hospital but was declared brought dead. Bantu was given death by the trial court, a judgement that was upheld by the high court and the Supreme Court.

(6) Dharmendra Singh and (7) Narendra Yadav (UP): Dharmendra Singh and Narendra Yadav of Agra were convicted for killing five members of a family, including three minors, in 1994. The dispute started over property. One Chandra Mohan had purchased 13.5 bigha land and half a haveli from Dharmendra's grandfather. The other half of the haveli was used by Dharmendra, who was not happy with the co-ownership. Chandra Mohan's niece Rita (15), was often teased by Dharmendra's friend Narendra, but she did not return his advances. Chandra Mohan once gave a thrashing to Narendra.Narendra hatched a conspiracy with Dharmendra to rape Rita and kill the family members. The duo killed Chandra Mohan and five others on the night of 26 May 1994. Rita was raped before the murder.

The Supreme Court held the crime to be "ghastly, premeditated, and one which fell in the rarest of the rare category". In 2004, the then Home Minister L.K. Advani rejected the mercy appeal. But P. Chidambaram's MHA recommended that, "This was a crime driven by greed, lust and family feud, not uncommon in many parts of India." Having regard to all the factors, especially their age and the fact that both have been in the prison for 15 years, home minister P Chidambaram opined that "it would be appropriate to commute the sentence of death of one of life imprisonment." 

During Patil's tenure, the Ministry of Home Affairs commuted to life the death sentences of 35 criminals involved in 19 cases. In June, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson had said: "Article 72 does confer on the President the power to grant clemency. However, in the exercise of these powers, the President is not supposed to act on her own judgment but is mandated to act in accordance with the aid and advice of the government, which is binding on the Head of State"

Patil's predecessor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had rejected the petition of Dhananjoy Chatterjee convicted of raping and killing a school girl, and he was hanged in Kolkata in 2004. After Dhananjoy Chatterjee no rape convict has been hanged – because P Chidambaram concluded, “such offences are not uncommon” and Prathibha Patil approved Home Ministry’s recommendation. 

Murder is punishable with life sentence or death under Section 302 IPC. Gang Rape under Section 376 IPC is punishable with life imprisonment. And in the recent case of rape inside bus in Delhi, maximum sentence that can be awarded by the court is only life imprisonment. Because gang rape and attempt to murder can be punished with maximum of life imprisonment only and not death sentence ! 

Hence the public outcry to amend the law to provide death penalty to rapists is very proper and justified. The pardoning power of the President under the Constitution should also be suitably amended to exclude death penalties upheld by the Supreme Court. Once the highest Court awards death sentence, it should be implemented within a week. Death penalties should be executed in public. But will the Cental Govt listen ?

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