The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has reduced the death sentence of a 48-year-old murder convict to life imprisonment.
Maroti Shrirame, a resident of Yavatmal, will not be hanged, but will have to spend at least 20 years in prison for murdering four people and injuring four others.
A division bench of Justice A.P. Lavande and Justice P.D. Kode said a death sentence is given in the “rarest of rare” crimes.
“The number of persons assaulted and/or killed, and/or number of injuries caused by itself will not be a factor for making the case ‘rarest of rare’,” the 127-page judgment said.
The HC has upheld the life sentence of Shrirame’s son, Vinod, and the three-year sentence of their relative Gopikisan alias Om Parashram (36).
The court has also upheld the acquittal of two others, Parashram Gadmade (72) and Purushottam Gadmade (40), due to lack of evidence.
On September 14, 2004, Shrirame assaulted Sunil Jawalkar, a resident of the same village, with a sword. Shrirame suspected that Jawalkar, a married man, was having an affair with his daughter.
Neighbours had witnessed Shrirame assaulting Jawalkar. Vinod and Gopikisan attacked those who were with Jawalkar and tried to intervene.
Sunil and three of his relatives died while being taken to hospital.
The sessions court at Yavatmal had sentenced Shrirame to death and Vinod and Gopikisan to life imprisonment and three years’ imprisonment respectively.
The trio had challenged their sentence and the government had challenged the acquittal of Gadmades before the high court.
Shrirame’s lawyer, T.A. Mirza, argued that Shrirame and his relatives attacked Jawalkar to save his daughter’s honour.
He had no intention to kill Jawalkar and it happened in the heat of the moment, Mirza argued.
The judges observed that the sentence awarded to an accused should be in accordance with the severity of the offence. “…and [it should be] sufficient to remove the element of criminality in him, which has led to the commission of the relevant offence,” the judges said.