The Supreme Court’s decision to commute the sentence of accused Santosh Kumar Singh from death to life imprisonment has evoked mixed reactions.
While Singh said he was “relieved”, Priyadarshini Mattoo’s family and friends said they were “shattered” and vowed to continue their fight for justice.
Mattoo’s father Chaman Lal Mattoo, 74, hinted he would file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the judgment.
“It is the saddest day of my life. The apex court has not done justice to either me or to my daughter. I will not leave the battle for justice for my daughter midway. I will continue the fight till my last breath,” said a shattered Mattoo.
Activists and friends of the Mattoos also expressed disgust at the decision. Aditya Raj Kaul, who spearheaded the ‘Justice for Priyadarshini’ campaign said, “We thought the HC verdict would be upheld.”
Neelam Katara, mother of murdered businessman Nitish Katara says, “A life sentence, in our country, means freedom for
culprits, once they are out on bail.” National Commission for Women chairperson Girija Vyas said, “I am pained, sad and worried.”
However, Singh, lodged in the Tihar jail, told prison officials who informed him of the Supreme Court order, “I am feeling relieved. I am happy and satisfied.” Delhi High Court judge Justice R S Sodhi (now retired), who overturned Singh’s acquittal by the trial court and handed down the death sentence in December 2006 said, “It is all right if the Supreme Court says that the case does not deserve the maximum punishment (death penalty). The apex court judges are wiser and they have profound knowledge of law.”