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'Life term enough as crime was not premeditated?

Manu Sharma's lawyer RK Naseem opposed the prosecution plea to award him death sentence for the murder of Jessica Lall, reports Harish V Nair.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2006 03:29 IST

Manu Sharma's lawyer RK Naseem opposed the prosecution plea to award him death sentence for the murder of Jessica Lall, arguing that his client was not a habitual criminal who will be a threat to society.

Naseem said, "This was a murder which was in the heat of passion. It was not pre-meditated nor committed in a brutal manner. The law does not envisage vengeance but cares for reformation," he said, while seeking leniency from the court.

Police counsel Mukta Gupta contested his request, stating that his crime had shocked the society and his actions belied any possibility of being reformed.

ground for death

Gupta said Manu not only killed the innocent Jessica but also ensured that at every stage there was interference in the administration of justice. "This is how this case stands out. This is something abnormal," she said.

Gupta urged the court to draw a balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstance, as recommended by the Supreme Court in the Bachan Singh and Macchi Singh case, both of which related to murder in which the death sentence was awarded. Gupta said interference with justice delivery was an exceptional circumstance meriting death sentence.

"This convict has left no stone unturned to bury the criminal justice in this country and should be dealt in an exemplary manner", she said.

The same bench had invoked both cases to sentence Santosh Kumar to death in Priyadarshini Mattoo rape and murder case, she pointed out.

In the Bachan case of 1980, the Supreme Court for the first time had said the death penalty should be invoked only in the rarest of rare case. It refined the rarest of rare category rule in case involving, Machhi Singh, an officer of the Punjab Home Guards.

‘Manu not a threat’

The bench, however, did not agree. It said: "It cannot be said that there is material to suggest probability that the convict (Manu) would continue to commit acts of violence ... The murder, though intentional, was not premeditated and therefore life imprisonment would meet the ends of justice".