A court in Karnal on Monday reserved till tomorrow the sentencing in a shocking case of honour killing of a couple on the diktats of a self-styled community panchayat for marrying in the same sub-caste.
The Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Vani Gopal Sharma will pronounce the sentence tomorrow. The prosecution maintained that it was a "rarest of the rare case" and sought a capital punishment to the accused while the defence claimed there is insufficient evidence against them.
On Thursday, the court had held six persons guilty of murdering a couple of the same 'gotra' (sub-caste) in 2007. Another person was held guilty of abduction and the quantum of punishment was to be pronounced on Monday.
It was the first instance in Haryana where an affected family moved court against honour killing after a 'khap panchayat' or caste-based council ruled against a couple's marriage. In this case, the boy's family approached the court.
Those held guilty by the court on Thursday were Suresh, Rajender and Baru Ram, brother, uncle and maternal uncle of the girl Babli, Gurdev and Satish, her cousins and Ganga Raj, a leader of the khap panchayat.
Mandeep Singh, a driver, was convicted of kidnapping and the prosecution had pleaded that he be awarded a life term.
Manoj (23) and Babli (19), who hailed from Karora village in Kaithal district, got married on May 18, 2007 against the wishes of the khap panchayat and the girl's family as the two belonged to the same 'gotra'.
The Khap panchayat had asked them to dissolve the marriage as people of same gotra are considered as siblings.
Apprehending threat to their lives, the couple had also approached police, which produced them before a Kaithal court on June 15, 2007.
However, on the same day they were kidnapped at Nilokheri allegedly by the girl's family as they were returning after a court appearance at Kaithal. An FIR regarding the kidnapping was registered at the Bhutana police station on June 20.
The incensed family members and villagers announced their social boycott and their bodies were found in a canal on June 23. The hands and legs of the couple had been tied and their bodies had been badly mutilated.
The postmortem indicated that Babli had been poisoned while Manoj was strangulated to death.
According to the police, the girl's relatives had dragged the couple out from a Karnal-bound bus and murdered them before dumping their bodies in the canal.
The trial in the case continued for 33 months and 41 witnesses deposed in the case during 50 hearings. It was virtually a lone legal battle for Chanderpati, 55-year-old mother of Manoj.