The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death penalty of a woman and her lover for killing seven members of her family, including a 10-month-old child, in 2008.
The apex court described parricide as the “most terrible inversion of brute instinct” while sentencing Shabnam, a teacher, and her lover Salim to capital punishment.
“Of all the crimes that shock the souls of men, none has ever been held in greater abhorrence than parricide, which is by all odds the most complete and terrible inversion, not alone of human nature but of brute instinct,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.
The court expressed shock over the crime, noting that Shabnam, in complicity with her lover, killed her parents towards whom she was to act as a caregiver and supporter in view of the fact that daughters now played a multifaceted and indispensable role in the family.
Shabnam and Salim were having an affair and wanted to get married but their relationship met with stiff opposition from the woman's family.
On April 15, 2008, Shabnam's entire family was wiped out and the woman initially pretended that her house in Amroha district of Uttar Pradesh was attacked by unidentified assailants.
It came to light during investigation that she had abetted Salim in the crime as she made her family members drink milk laced with sedatives and hacked them to death. They also throttled her little nephew.
The apex court confirmed the Allahabad High Court order of 2013, saying that the duo deserved no mercy as they wrenched the heart of the society where family is an institution of love and trust.
The court rejected a plea made by advocate Dushyant Parashar, appearing as amicus curiae for commutation of the death sentence to life term in view of young age of the couple, besides the fact the woman gave birth to a child during her incarceration.
The court also rued that Shabnam, herself a teacher and so was her father, who took care to see she grew up in an educated and independent environment and was respectfully employed, did not show any mercy towards her own family.
“Such a deed would be sufficiently appalling where the perpetrator and the victims are uneducated and backward, but it gains a ghastly illumination from the descent, moral upbringing, and elegant respectful living of the educated family where the father and daughter are both teachers,” the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and Arun Mishra, said.