The Bombay high court last week declined to impose the death penalty on a 42-year-old labourer from Ahmednagar district for killing his wife and eight-year-old son and also attempting to kill his daughter by pushing all of them into Indrayani river.
The division bench of justice Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani and justice AR Joshi refused to enhance the sentence handed down to Adinath Garje by an additional sessions judge at Pune stating it was not a rarest-of-rare case.
The bench rejected the contention of assistant public prosecutor Shilpa Gajare-Dhumal that the accused deserved the death sentence, as he had thrown his wife and both children into the river at a religious place. The judges felt the case did not attract capital punishment considering the parameters put down by the Apex Court for awarding the death penalty.
The prosecution’s case stated that Adinath had taken his wife Mangal, 11-year-old daughter Sharda and eight-year-old son Dnyaneshwar to Dehu on a pilgrimage. Early in the morning on March 21, 2003, he took all of them to the river Indrayani for a holy bath, and when they reached the river he pushed all of them in.
Both Mangal and Dnyaneshwar drowned. When Sharda tried to swim ashore, Adinath hit her on the head with a stone. Sharda then pretended to be dead, and survived to tell the tale.
On the basis of a compliant lodged by the 11-year-old, the police registered an offence against Adinath and one Satyabhama Jadhavar with whom the former was having
an illicit relationship. Relying primarily on Sharda’s evidence, the trial court convicted Adinath for killing his wife and son, and trying to kill his daughter, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. It, however, acquitted Jadhavar.
While Adinath challenged his conviction and sentence, the state government had sought enhancement of the sentence and had also challenged Jadhavar’s acquittal.
The high court rejected both appeals.