Chandigarh court sentences Harmehtab Rarewala to life term till death for ex-HP CM nephew Akansh Sen’s murder

A Chandigarh district court on Wednesday sentenced Harmehtab Singh Rarewala to life imprisonment till natural death for the murder of Akansh Sen, a nephew of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha, on February 9, 2017.
Harmehtab Singh Rarewala being escorted out of a Chandigarh court after he was sentenced to life imprisonment till natural death on Wednesday.(HT Photo)
Harmehtab Singh Rarewala being escorted out of a Chandigarh court after he was sentenced to life imprisonment till natural death on Wednesday.(HT Photo)
Updated on Nov 21, 2019 12:50 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By

A Chandigarh district court on Wednesday sentenced Harmehtab Singh Rarewala to life imprisonment till natural death for the murder of Akansh Sen, a nephew of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha, on February 9, 2017.

Pronouncing the judgment, additional district and sessions judge Rajeev Goyal also imposed a fine of 3 lakh on Harmehtab, who was convicted on Monday under Sections 302 (murder) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sen was run over by a BMW car several times following a brawl in a posh residential area of Sector 9 here. According to the prosecution, accused Balraj Singh Randhawa crushed Sen under his car after being instigated by Harmehtab, who was arrested on February 16, 2017. Randhawa is absconding and has been declared a proclaimed offender. While Harmehtab is the grandson of erstwhile PEPSU’s chief minister Gian Singh Rarewala, Randhawa is the son of a former sarpanch of Fatehgarh Sahib.

Observing that both shared “common intention” while committing the crime, the court said the evidence against them is “reliable, cogent, credible and trustworthy”.

“Hence, it is held that accused Harmehtab along with co-accused Balraj Singh Randhawa had the requisite intention to cause death of Akansh Sen by running him over by BMW car… and it was so done by Balraj Singh Randhawa at the instance of accused Harmehtab,” said the court.

It was mentioned that even though Sen died after 36 hours of the occurrence, “the act committed by them becomes no less serious than murder because all through the time Akansh Sen remained admitted in the PGIMER till his death, his condition remained most critical.”

The judgment mentioned: “Further, he was run over thrice with intention of causing such bodily injury to him which was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death which becomes absolutely clear from the report of medical board.”

While ruling out “extreme penalty of death sentence”, the order mentioned: “No doubt, killing a person is a heinous and brutal crime but at the same time, it is not possible to hold that it is a rarest of rare case because it is difficult to say that the convict is menace to society and there is no reason to believe that he cannot be reformed or rehabilitated and that he is likely to continue criminal acts of violence as would constitute a continuing threat to the society.”

Maintaining his innocence even after the sentencing, Rarewala said: “Let there be a narco test of mine and of the three witnesses and the investigating officer. I am innocent. My conscious is clear. I have not killed Akansh Sen. Justice has not been done.”

‘Rarewala is short-tempered, gets angry at the drop of hat’

Terminder Singh, the counsel of Adamya Rathore, the complainant and Sen’s cousin, had told court that there was an old enmity between Harmehtab Rarewala and Sen’s friend Gagandeep Singh Shergill, aka Shera. The enmity started with a scuffle in Manali and was followed by another scuffle at Rarewala’s farmhouse in Landran.

On the day of the incident, Harmehtab and Shera had gone to party at a common friend Deep Sidhu’s house in Sector 9, where Sen came in search of Shera. While they were outside the house, Sen confronted Harmehtab for misbehaving with Shera. This infuriated Harmehtab, who, according to the prosecution, said: “Tu Shere da bodyguard lageyaa hai, pehlan tainu hi theek karde haan (Are you Shera’s bodyguard? Let’s take care of you first).”

“Evidence... emphatically brings the court to the conclusion that (this) utterance has to be attributed both to the accused Harmehtab as well as his accomplice Balraj Singh Randhawa,” said court, while accepting the prosecution’s version.

“Looking at the manner in which said incidents, one at Manali and other at Rarewala Farm House, had taken place, gives an insight into the nature and temperament of Harmehtab and it can easily be observed that he is short-tempered person who gets angry at the drop of hat and, therefore... he got agitated (with Sen),” mentioned the judgement.

Akansh Sen
Akansh Sen
‘Why would Sen’s kin falsely implicate the two accused?’

The judge also rejected Harmehtab’s allegation that Sen’s family tried to falsely implicate him at the behest of Shergill, with whom he had old enmity.

The court questioned that “why would the family members of Akansh Sen think of falsely implicating Harmehtab and his companion under the pretext of extending their helping hand to Shergill to enable him to settle his scores with Harmehtab?”

The judge in the order also observed that neither Sen’s nor Shergill’s family members “could have in any manner thought of implicating Balraj Singh Randhawa against whom they had no axe to grind, without any tangible reason”.

‘In case Randhawa was innocent, why did he not surrender?’

Balraj Randhawa, main accused in the case, is still at large. While sentencing Harmehtab, the court observed: “In case (Randhawa) was innocent, why did he not surrender and submit himself to majesty of law to defend himself and prove his innocence?”

According to police, Randhawa has fled abroad. A Chandigarh court has declared him proclaimed offender. In June 2018, Chandigarh Police had claimed that they had got some “important leads” against him. A red-corner notice has also been issued against him by Interpol on November 22, 2018.

Court points to IO’s negligence

At several instances, the judgment mentions how the investigating officer (IO) remained negligent.

“As such IO did not exercise due diligence due to which these omissions took place thereby giving an opportunity to the defence to take advantage of the same by raising arguments,” the judgement stated.

Then it mentioned: “In the circumstances of the case, what can be observed by this court is that IO remained negligent during investigation but he cannot at all be accused of conducting a tainted investigation under the pressure of political high-ups. In case, family of deceased is politically well-connected, so is the family of accused.”

An another point, it mentions: “Hence, no benefit of lapses and omissions committed by the IO can be extended in favour of the accused, whose guilt is otherwise proved on the strength of credible and reliable evidence of the eyewitnesses of the occurrence.”

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Monday, January 24, 2022