THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded to seven convicts by a Rohtak court in 2015 for murder and gangrape of a 28-year-old Nepali woman and enhanced the fine imposed on them from Rs 50,000 each to Rs 50 lakh while observing that despite stern laws in place, the "deterrence in the matter of sentences including the death sentence is not satisfactory".
Delivering the verdict, the pision bench of Justices AB Chaudhari and Surinder Gupta said that they were "shocked" and "aghast" at the "number and nature of injuries caused to the victim, who was mentally unwell" and had been brought to Rohtak from Nepal so she could be looked after by her relatives. The court termed it a "barbaric crime" and defined the acts of the perpetrators as "brutal and predatory".
"The 'animalism', torment, highest order of cruelty, rather "tsunami" of cruelty, made thereafter is bound to petrify one and all," the bench said while recording the graphic nature of the crime committed by the convicts one by one. The woman was not only raped and killed but her private parts were attacked with bricks by the convicts.
The state had argued that the case was akin to that of the 2012 Delhi gang rape case wherein a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was beaten, gang raped, and brutalised by six people. She died during treatment. The incident had shaken the collective conscience of the nation and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad.
Stating that imposition of a heavy fine would prove additional deterrence, the bench said that Rs 50 lakh cost on the seven convicts should be recovered from them by attaching and selling their immovable properties like plot, house, agricultural land.
"It is quite possible that one or more of the convict does not own or possess any immovable property. But then all these appellants/accused have been found, by us, to have committed the ghastly crime with a conspiracy jointly and inpidually," the bench said, adding that 50 per cent of the amount will go to the State of Haryana and remaining half to the sister of the victim.
The Deputy Commissioner of Rohtak district has been directed to identify the immovable properties of all the convicts and attach them within one month. The sale of the properties is to take place within two months from the date of attachment. A report on compliance is to be filed on or before July 4, according to the order.