A 97-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh for a murder he committed in 1993, marking what is perhaps a first in legal history.
Kartar Singh, a resident of Mari Buchhian village in Punjab's Gurdaspur district, was on Thursday awarded a life term for the murder of his neighbour Surjit Kaur in their village following a minor dispute over a vegetable garden.
The high court directed the Punjab police to put the old man behind bars rejecting his counsel's plea to acquit him on the ground of his age.
"Section 302 (murder) leaves no room for discretion. He should have stopped himself but he thrust his stick into her (victim's) body which caused her death instantaneously," the high court said.
Kartar Singh was 83 years old when he committed the crime. A trial court in Gurdaspur recorded his statement in 1998 - when he was 88 years old - and held him guilty of murder. He was arrested but has been out on bail since 2001.
He had appealed to the high court against his conviction by the trial court and his plea was pending for nearly 10 years now.
When the court Thursday sentenced Kartar Singh to life imprisonment, it asked the state counsel to first find out if he was alive.
When the counsel called up the concerned police station to know about Kartar Singh, he was right there in the police station. He had gone to find out about another case against him. The court ordered that he be arrested immediately.