Death penalty for crime that shook “collective conscience”
Srinagar: A court in Kupwara on Friday awarded death penalty to all the four convicts in Tabinda Gani rape and murder, holding that the gruesome act has given a serious blow to the collective conscience of the community.
Tabinda, a student of 8th class, was found dead in an orchard in Langate area of the northern Kupwara district on 20 July 2007 after her abduction. Medical reports confirmed rape before murder which was carried out by slitting her throat.
“I am of the opinion that the case falls within the ‘rarest of rare category’. In the result, convicts are sentenced to death for offences under section 302/34 RPC,” the Principal and Sessions Judge, Kupwara Muhammad Ibrahim ruled while rejecting the contentions by defence counsel for ‘imprisonment for life’ to the convicts.
The court said that there was no alternative other than to award death sentence for offence under section 302/34 RPC.
On Saturday, the court held Sadiq Mir alias Sadiq Choor, Azhar Mir alias Bilal both residents of Langate, Jehangir Bihari of West Bengal (a carpenter by profession) and Suresh Mochi (a cobbler) of Rajasthan, guilty of the gruesome offence.
“The act of rape and murder of minor girl committed by the convicts is of such a nature which has shaken the whole community and given a serious blow on the collective conscience of the community,” the court said.
For the “heinous and diabolical” crime, the court declined to consider any mitigating circumstances like age of convicts, their future prospectives, liability to family members or relatives and their possibility for service to the society.
“The mitigating circumstance as projected by defence counsel, are not such which will balance or out-weigh the aggravating circumstances. The convicts have not shown any mercy or pity on the helpless victim.”
The victim, the court said, had no fault except that she belonged to fairer sex and was not in a position to resist or repel the acts of the convicts.
“In present days when the crime against the women especially minor girls is on increase, the court has a duty to give stern warring and massage to such criminal minded people. They need to be given a message that no doubt it may take some time for courts to decide or mill of the justice may grind slowly but ultimately it will deliver and give right lesson to such criminal minded people,” the judge said, emphasizing leniency of any kind would not serve collective conscience of the society.
“The punishment has a purpose to achieve and one of the main purpose is, that the others who may have a tendency to commit such type of crimes may get stern warning by observing what type of punishment has been given to those who have committed such offences.”
The court observed that society is passing through a time where values have been lost.
“A woman who was to be treated as mother, sister, daughter, grand-mother is nowadays being looked as object for satisfying the carnal desires by the persons having criminal mind set or tendency,” the court said, highlighting that stern warning or message needs to be sent to them by the courts by awarding appropriate punishment.
“Day in and day out, we hear and read and observe serious crimes being committed against women. News channels and newspapers are full of flashes and stories every day, even every hour regarding rape, kidnapping and murder of innocent girls. Judges as part of society cannot remain untouched or unconcerned for these types of heinous and serious crimes.”
Everybody, the court said, has a duty to rise to occasion and face the challenge head on.
“Faith in the system or institutions is the guarantee for survival of democratic values and rule of law. Institutions whether executive, legislatures or judiciary has to play important roles,” the court said, observing that judiciary has the ultimate duty to award appropriate punishment when the guilt is proved. “Sympathy is good but undue sympathy may lead to disorder or chaos in the society,” the court added.
Besides 302(murder) and 34 (crime done with common intention), the four were found also guilty for offences among others under 376G (rape) and 364 (kidnapping with intention to kill).
Subsequently, the court sentenced each of the convicts to rigorous imprisonment of seven years for offence punishable under section 363/34 RPC; 10-years for the offence punishable under sections 376(G)/34 RPC.
“They are also sentenced to simple imprisonment of one month for offence punishable under section 341/ 34 of RPC. The sentences shall run con-currently.”