Amid raging debate over desirability of death penalty in India, the SC has asked a man from UP convicted of killing his wife and four minor children why he should not be hanged.
Acting on a petition filed by the UP government, a bench headed by justice Markandey Katju on Friday issued notice to Alok Verma asking why his life imprisonment should not be converted into capital punishment.
Justice Katju had earlier advocated death penalty for convicts in all honour killing and fake encounter cases.
Verma murdered his wife, three sons and a daughter with the help of a hired criminal in July 2005 using a knife and an axe because his wife used to object to his involvement in criminal activities, gambling, and habitual drinking.
His second daughter Priyanka, who survived the attack proved a crucial eyewitness witness against him.
The trial court had awarded him death penalty but the Allahabad HC converted it into life imprisonment on the ground that the convict came from a poor family. The state government moved SC against the HC verdict.
"We cannot imagine a more ghastly act and we are, prima facie, of the opinion that this falls in the category of rarest of rare cases in which death sentence should have been given…Prima facie, we find the reasoning of the HC to be strange. Merely because a person is in financial crisis does not mean that he is at liberty to commit ghastly and gruesome murders," the SC said.
"It appears that the wife of the accused was of a noble character who tried to reform him but the accused, rather than being reformed, committed these monstrous crimes. We fail to understand how the HC could reduce the death sentence in these circumstances," the SC said.