The Delhi High Court on Friday commuted the death sentence awarded by a lower court last year to two cab drivers for gangraping, robbing and killing a 59-year-old Australian tourist in 2004 to life sentence.
Griggs was murdered within hours of landing in Delhi from Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific flight in the early hours of March 17, 2004.
She was to enroll in a meditation course at Brahmakumari Aishwarya Vidyalaya. She had taken a pre-paid taxi from IGI, and was later found murdered in a nearby deserted field.
The incident had sent shockwaves across the country and raised questions about the safety of tourists in the capital.
Awarding death to Jyotish Prasad, 28, and Ashish Kumar, 34, terming their crime “rarest of rare” the lower court had said “it must not be forgotten the victim was a foreigner, who was totally dependent on the hospitality provided to her by our people. She was totally defenceless and unprotected.”
The judge had also pointed out to medical evidence showing the victim had died of throttling and gagging after being attacked with a screw driver.
But disposing of appeals filed by the convicts, a Bench of Justice B D Ahmed and Justice V B Gupta said Prasad and Kumar did not deserve such a harsh punishment. The Bench however upheld the convictions.
“We find that the present case does not fall within the category of rarest of the rare cases. Nor are we convinced that life imprisonment would be an altogether inadequate punishment.
For these reasons, we are unable to confirm the death sentence awarded to the appellants by the learned Additional Sessions Judge.” The Bench noted life imprisonment is the rule and death sentence is a rare exception.