As the debate over death penalty rages, the SC on Tuesday said only the legislature that can abolish death penalty and not courts.
Upholding a Bombay HC judgment sentencing a man to death for killing his wife and three children, a bench headed by justice Markandeya Katju said: “As long as death penalty exists in the statute book, it has to be imposed in some cases, otherwise it will (be) tantamount to repeal the death penalty by the judiciary.”
The bench added it was not for the judiciary to repeal or amend the law as that was in the legislature’s domain.
The court also rejected the appeal of one Ajitsingh Harnamsingh Gujral and held the “hot tempered” and “dictatorial” husband deserved the death penalty. The man had set ablaze his wife and children.
The bench agreed with the concurrent findings of the lower courts that held Gujral’s act fell under the "rarest of the rare" category, warranting extreme punishment.
“In our opinion, a distinction has to be drawn between ordinary murders and murders which are gruesome, ghastly or horrendous. While life sentence should be given in the former, the latter belongs to the category of rarest of rare cases and hence death sentence should be given,” the bench observed.
Gujral had on April 10, 2003 poured kerosene on his wife, Kanwaljeet Kaur, son Amandeep Singh and daughters Neetia and Taniya and set them ablaze. The couple was married for 27 years and according to the prosecution Gujral used to physically assault his wife.