Congress on Friday described as "lenient" the Supreme Court's decision rejecting CBI's plea for death penalty to Dara Singh, convicted for burning alive Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons.
The apex court, while upholding the life term awarded to Dara Singh by the Orissa high court for the January 1999 killings, ruled that the crime was not "rarest of rare" to warrant capital punishment.
"The apex court has really relatively been very lenient in giving the minimum punishment...it was a serious and barbaric event. It was not merely a case of coercion and pressure. This barbaric event led to the destruction of child lives in a brutal and unspeakable manner," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.
While announcing the decision on Wednesday, a bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan, while dismissing the agency's plea for death penalty, had said the punishment can be imposed only in the "rarest of rare" cases depending upon the facts and situation of each case.
Dara Singh and Mahendra Hembrom were found guilty of burning to death Staines and his sons while they were sleeping inside a van in front of a church at Manoharpur village in Koenjhar district of Orissa on January 22, 1999.