HC upholds death penalty of 3 youths for rape, murder of girl

HC upholds death penalty of 3 youths for rape, murder of girl

HC upholds death penalty of 3 youths for rape, murder of girl

Terming them as "trained blood hounds" and "feral beasts", the Delhi High Court today upheld the death sentence of three youths for abducting, gangraping and killing a 17-year-old girl here saying the case fell within the realms of the "rarest of rare" category.

Awarding the capital punishment, the court said, "The sordid facts of the present case reveal that the victim after having been abducted in public gaze and consequently removed from society, was ravished and murdered."

"The tale of malignity was far from its conclusion as thereafter the sadistic perpetrators grotesquely stamped the breast and the umbilical region of the deceased by using the heated spanner," it said.

A bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Mukta Gupta, in its 97-page verdict, dealt with the evidence relating to the horrific crime and the sentencing patterns of various countries, including the US, in sexual offences cases.

"It is a whimsical and bizarre crime, conceits of which kind are not common in the annals of crime. After raping unfortunate Anamica (name given by the court), they battered her to death. They then defiled her body. Their acts revealed the intention to carry out a crime for the excitement of a criminal act.

"From the injuries caused to Anamica which led to her death it is apparent that the duration of Anamica's physical suffering was prolonged, it is apparent that the three accused intended to traumatize the victim emotionally, maximizing terror through humiliation, all for experiencing pleasure of the criminal action and the pain and suffering of Anamica and benefit from the excitement of the criminal act," it said.

The bench dismissed the appeals filed by the youths - Rahul (27), Ravi (23) and Vinod (23) - against the death sentence awarded to them by a trial court and allowed the plea the state seeking confirmation of the death penalty.

The girl, who was working in Gurgaon's Cyber City, was abducted by the three youths in a car near her house in Qutub Vihar here and was gangraped and murdered by them on February 9, 2012.

In its judgement, the bench referred to the sequence of events. "We refer back to the first three paragraphs of our decision which brings out that the three accused moved as trained blood hounds, picking out a scent. They got one when they saw Pooja, Sangeeta, Saraswati and Anamica.

"So swift and furtive were their movements that the other three girls could hardly react. It was not as if the three accused saw a lonely woman on the street and the evil in them overtook the good in them. It is not that they acted upon a sudden impulse," it said.

"They were predators moving on the streets and were looking for a prey. The three snatched Anamica from the society. Their hunter's mind was hard and unyielding. The predominant idea of finding a victim to rape and then kill her had taken such complete possession of their mind that there was no room for any emotion.

"Satisfying their lust and executing their design to kill the helpless Anamica, the record which they left upon her dead body was a sign: this is not a common rape followed by murder," it said.

According to the bench, the amended penal law, which came into being in 2013, cannot be applied in the case, but the death penalty can be awarded as the offence did fall under the rarest of rare category.

"The legislative response to such kind of crime with effect from February 03, 2013 cannot be applied in the instant case because the crime was committed prior to the law being amended.

"But we cannot ignore that in a rarest of rare case where the crime and the criminal test are satisfied, sentence of death can be inflicted for a violent rape followed by murder and specially when the accused have acted as predators, have snatched a member of the society from the society to commit the crime.

"Having committed the crime the predators have defiled the body of the victim. Society has to be protected. It cannot be forgotten that punishment is a moral sanction by the society, not merely a penalty such as a parking fine, which may be imposed without the moral weight of a finding of criminal responsibility," it said.

The court, in its verdict, referred to various apex court judgements on the award of death penalty to convicts. It rejected the submission of defence lawyers that the prosecution failed to prove the motive behind the offence.

"The facts would bring out that as feral beasts the three accused were on the prowl looking for a prey. They spotted one in Anamica. The plucked her out of the company of her friends. They had to feed their sexual desire. After satisfying the sexual desire they brutally murdered Anamica. They defiled her dead body evidenced by injuries...

"They heated the spanner of the car, in all probability by putting it in the silencer of the car when the car was on, they then branded the dead body around the right nipple and the umbilicus," it said.

Dealing with the forensic evidence, the bench said, the three accused were conscious of the fact that DNA analysis was linking them to the crime in the form of DNA profile of the "semen sample from the vagina of Anamica..."

It also rejected the plea that the non-examination of beat constables, who had apprehended Ravi and Vinod from their house, as witnesses were fatal to the case of the prosecution.

"Merely because a witness is not examined by the prosecution, a criminal court would not lean to draw an adverse inference that if he was examined he would have given a contrary version...

"Unless there are other circumstances to facilitate the drawing of an adverse inference it should not be a mechanical process to draw an adverse inference merely on the strength of non-examination of a witness, even if the witness is a material witness," it said.

It trashed the plea that in a case, based on circumstantial evidence, the death sentence ought not to be imposed by the courts.

"Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do incalculable harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law. The society could not endure long under such serious threats and it was therefore, the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed," it said while referring to a Supreme Court judgement on the issue.

The bench referred to various psychopathic personality disorders and said that the psychopaths "lie at the intersection between the so-called 'mad' and 'bad', that is, between those who clearly warrant treatment (the seriously mentally ill) and those who should properly receive punishment..."

"To make a distillate, the literature on the subject guides us that sex offenders can be classified as criminal sexual psychopaths who are least dangerous and who would be the peeping Tom voyagers or those who evince exhibitionism.

"The next category would comprise sexually dangerous persons and in this category would fall those who commit violent rape with brutality. They may not intend to cause the death of the victim, but death results from the brutality inflicted.

"The third category which is the most dangerous to the society, would be the dangerous and violent sexual predators and offenders who lack empathy and remorse. The first category would be depraved, the second would be heinous and the last would be horrible," it said.

The court said that the convicts in the present case fell under the third category which is "the extreme form of sadomasochism. Society has to be protected from such sexually violent, dangerous predator sexual offender..."

Protection of the society from psychopathic offenders who are calculated predators has to be given primacy and the legislations world over for brutal assaults are aimed at ensuring that sexual predators and specially if they are of the violent kind, are far removed from society - to protect the society, to the extent that they be kept in detention till death or till age overtakes them and incapacitate them, it said.

"Experts draw a distinction between criminal sexual psychopaths and dangerous sexual offenders, the latter being considered a greater threat to society," it said.

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