HC commutes man's death sentence to life

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Chennai, Mar 17 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded by a trial court to a man who allegedly dismembered a quinquagenarian after strangulating her in a case of murder for gain, to life imprisonment.

The court ruled that the man, who stuffed the body parts in two suitcases, cannot be released before the expiry of 25 years of actual imprisonment under any statutory remission or commutation scheme.

'This is yet another run-of-the-mill case of murder for gain and nothing more or nothing less. In other words, in our view, this case does not fall under the category of rarest of the rare cases for awarding death penalty,' a division bench of Justices P N Prakash and V Sivagnanam said.

The bench was passing final orders on the appeal from the accused Yasar Arafat of Melapalayam in Tirunelveli district, challenging the conviction orders of the IV Additional Sessions Judge, Coimbatore.

The judges noted that it was not the case of the prosecution that the appellant went about sadistically dismembering a living person.

The post-mortem certificates clearly showed that the victim's (Saroja) death, in January 2013, had occurred due to strangulation of her neck and that all the other injuries had been found to be post-mortem and not ante-mortem ones.

After having caused the death of Saroja for relieving the ornaments worn by her, the accused had dismembered her body parts to avoid detection.

That is why, he had stuffed the severed parts in two suitcases and had hidden a pair of thighs above the cupboard, thinking that he would be in a position to dispose of the two suitcases and avoid detection, the court said.

Maybe, luck did not smile at him and the intolerable pungent stench that emanated from the suitcases and the cupboard miserably betrayed him.

There is no other material, much less any material worth the salt, to show that the appellant had an intrinsic criminal propensity and would be a menace to the society, the judges pointed out.

'Therefore, we are unable to persuade ourselves to confirm the sentence of death that has been slapped by the trial court on the appellant and we substitute the same with life imprisonment together with a rider that the appellant cannot be released before the expiry of 25 years of actual imprisonment under any statutory remission or commutation scheme,' the bench said.

On the day of the incident, the man was 22 years old and the victim 54. This significant age difference puts the appellant in the position of Saroja's son.

The fact remains that a defenceless 54-year-old woman has been done to death for her ornaments by her neighbour and hence, the latter deserves to be in prison for not less than 25 years, the judges added. PTI COR SA BN BN