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Capital punishment for the first time in Darjeeling

india Updated: Aug 18, 2011 21:11 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
Hindustan Times
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In a landmark judgment, sessions judge, Darjeeling awarded capital punishment to a person named Amar Rai guilty of murder. This is for the first time that capital punishment is being pronounced in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

37 year old Rai was found guilty of murdering his own mother Prem Kumari Rai in cold blood. The Sessions Judge convicted Rai for committing offence under Section 302 IPC (murder).

Pronouncing the sentence at around 1:25pm, Subrata Mitra, sessions judge, Darjeeling stated, "It is cold blooded murder and the convict is not repentant for the acts done by him. If we consider the facts, circumstances of this case and the conduct of the accused person then this case can be treated as rarest of the rare cases. The society will lose faith upon the law if lenient view is taken by the Court in the matter of imposing sentence upon the offender of such type of heinous crime. Maximum punishment should be imposed to prevent recurrence of similar offence. Let him be hanged by the neck till he is dead."

A fine of Rs. 5000/- was also imposed defaulting which rigorous imprisonment of one year was also pronounced. As per Section 366(1) CrPC which states, "When the Court of Session passes a sentence of death, the proceedings shall be submitted to the High Court, and the sentence shall not be executed unless it is confirmed by the High Court". The proceedings of the case will also be submitted to the high court for confirmation.

On November 19, 2006 at around 8.15am the medical officer of Darjeeling district correctional home was informed by two ladies that Prem Kumari Rai, female warden of the correctional home was lying dead in her jail quarters.

The doctor on visiting the spot found Rai lying dead on the floor inside the room. The body was wrapped in a bed sheet and polythene. She had been physically abused also. He immediately informed the police.

In presence of a huge crowd, Amar, son of the victim had confessed his crime. He also brought out a blood stained axe from the kitchen with which he had murdered his mother and handed over the murder weapon to the police.

Amar had stated that after murdering his mother he had wrapped the dead body in a bed sheet and polythene and had gone to fetch wood for the coffin, stated Binod Agarwal, Public Prosecutor (PP,) Darjeeling.

Around 17 witnesses had been examined in this case. "Amar Rai’s father Man Bahadur Rai was an employee at the Darjeeling correctional home. After Man Bahadur Rai's demise his wife Prem Kumari got a job at the correctional home. Amar’s grudge was why he had not got the job instead of his mother" added the PP. However neighbors stated that Amar, allegedly a drug addict, used to beat up his mother and physically abuse her regularly.

"This is for the first time that death sentence is being pronounced in the district" stated the PP. "In my 47 year long profession in the Darjeeling district court I have not heard of capital punishment being awarded in the district. I am not aware of capital punishment in the British days in this region. It truly is a landmark judgment" added Taranga Pundit, senior lawyer, Darjeeling district court.

"As Amar Rai did not have a lawyer to represent him, I was appointed by the Legal aid cell as his defence. Further Rai can appeal at the Honorable Calcutta high court through Legal Aid" stated Narayan Chettri, Rai's defence.

Though Rai had two wives, the wives and relatives are not in touch with him. None of his relatives or friends were present in court today while the death sentence was pronounced.