The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing on a bail plea by Rabindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh who is undergoing life sentence for the 1999 killing of Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two children Philip and Timoti in Orissa.
Staines and his two children were killed Jan 22, 1999, after a mob belonging to saffron outfit Bajrang Dal set on fire the jeep they were sleeping in after conducting a missionary camp.
The three were charred to death in Monoharpur village in Orissa's Keonjhar district.
Pal was convicted and awarded death sentence by the trial court. However, the same was commuted to life imprisonment by the Orissa High Court.
The apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan said that the final hearing into the matter would start from Nov 9.
Pal has sought bail on the grounds that since his conviction by the trial court he has already undergone eight years' imprisonment and his appeal challenging the high court order is pending before the apex court for the last two year.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vivek Tankha would lead the arguments by opposing Pal's appeal seeking quashing of his sentence. He will plead for the enhancement of the sentence to death penalty.
ASG Tankha told the court that besides opposing Pal's appeal, the Central Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the matter, would also seek the enhancement of punishment to other accused.
Earlier appearing for the petitioner, Counsel Sibo Shankar Mishra assailed the high court verdict on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish its case in accordance with the established procedure of gathering evidence.
He told the court that identification parade of Pal and other accused was done on the basis of their photographs. He said that witnesses first saw Pal when he appeared in the court to face trial.
Mishra told the court that confessional statements that had been relied upon were made only after investigation into the case was taken up by the CBI.
Prior to this there was no confessional statement when the case was investigated by police, he said.