Two convicts in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case were today awarded death penalty while one escaped with life term, as a Delhi court held that the 28- year-old IT executive was killed in a “cold-blooded, inhuman and cruel manner” and “brutally mauled to death”.
The court said the magnitude and brutality exhibited by the convicts made the case ‘rarest of rare’, warranting capital punishment for Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla. The third offender Baljeet Malik was given reprieve from gallows for his good conduct in jail. The court also imposed varying fines on the convicts, with Kapoor being slapped with a fine of Rs 1.2 lakh due to his incapacity to pay, while Shukla and Malik directed to pay Rs 2.8 lakh and Rs 5.8 lakh respectively as the pre-sentencing report suggested they were financially strong.
The trio are also facing trial for the murder of TV journalist Soumya Viswanathan, killed a year before Jigisha.
While awarding the extreme punishment to Kapoor and Shukla, Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav said “they are a threat to the society” and the magnitude and brutality exhibited by the convicts brings the case within the category of ‘rarest of rare’. “The offence was committed in cold-blooded, inhuman and cruel manner. Innocent, helpless and vulnerable victim remained in the captivity of the convicts for hours. She pleaded to convicts not to take her life and to save herself, she handed over her debit card and other belongings to them. Victim also disclosed the pin number of her debit card to the convicts.
“However, they were satisfied only by brutally mauling her to death. In other words, convicts behaved in uncivilised and barbaric manner against a helpless girl,” the judge said, pronouncing the order on sentence in a packed court room.
The court said leniency cannot be shown to these convicts as there was a rise of gruesome crimes against women which needed to be dealt with an appropriate sentence.
“Gruesome crimes against women are on the rise in the recent years. Any leniency in such cases will send very wrong message in society and encourage criminals like the convicts. Passing appropriate sentence in such cases will go a long way in arresting the increasing trend of crime against women.
“Some cruelty and brutality is involved in every crime against human body. It is the level, magnitude and degree of brutality, attitude and mindset of wrongdoer behind the crime along with other factors which make it a rarest of rare case. The magnitude and brutality exhibited by convicts brings this case within the category of rarest of rare,” the judge said.
The court also directed that out of the total fine of Rs 9.8 lakh, Rs six lakh be paid to the parents of the victim, and an adequate compensation amount be decided by the District Legal Service Authority (South).
While awarding compensation, the court noted that Jigisha was the only bread earner in her family, earning Rs 45,000 as an Operational Manager in a firm here and would have been at a much higher position in her career.
“No amount of compensation can alleviate the agony, pain and trauma of parents of victim, resulting from the crime committed in the case. However, monetary compensation would provide some solace and would apply balm to the wounds of the parents,” it said.
The court, while awarding compensation, also took into consideration the health condition of victim’s mother who is suffering from high diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, thalessimia and serious neurological ailment.
Jigisha’s father is a retired Deputy Director from the Ministry of Health, it noted.
The court also appreciated the probation officer for filing the detailed, pre-sentencing report and said, “the report assisted the court in arriving at a just conclusion as to the quantum of sentence. Report be kept in sealed cover.”
The court had on July 14 convicted the three men, saying it was “abundantly clear” that they had committed the crime.
Advocate Amit Shukla, counsel for Malik and Shukla, said death was not warranted in a case based on circumstantial evidence and he would appeal in high court against the verdict.
The court had held the three men guilty under several sections of IPC including 302 (murder), 364 (abducting for murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), 468(forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471(using as genuine a forged document).
It, however, held that the charge of criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC) could not be proved against the convicts.
The court had, in its 79 page-judgement, said the convicts “had two-fold motive to commit the murder – first to commit robbery and secondly to ensure that crime of robbery and abduction is not reported by victim to police.”
It had said it was proved that the three convicts had abducted Jigisha, robbed her of her gold chain, two mobile phones, two rings, debit and credit cards and killed her.
While seeking death sentence for the convicts, Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan had argued that they abducted Jigisha, robbed her, killed her for pleasure and used her debit card for shopping, and a CCTV footage of their shopping showed they had no remorse for their act.
The court, while sentencing the convicts, rejected the
claims of their counsel that they had spent over seven years behind bars and maintained good conduct.
The court also rejected the contentions that Kapoor and Shukla were suffering from diseases, saying “they do not constitute mitigating circumstances.”
It also said there was no scope for the two’s reformation and rehabilitation.
The police had filed the charge sheet in the case in June 2009 stating that Jigisha’s post-mortem report revealed that she was killed by smothering. The trial in the case began in April 2010.
Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha’s murder had led to cracking of the murder case of Soumya Vishwanathan,
Soumya was shot dead on September 30, 2008 while she was returning home in her car from office in the wee hours.
Police had claimed robbery as the motive behind the killing of both Jigisha and Soumya.
The court, while convicting the trio, also relied on the testimony of Jigisha’s father and rejected the claim of defence counsel about some discrepancies in his statement, saying “his deposition is natural version of a concerned father whose daughter went missing and some words missing here and there will not make any difference.