CBI seeks gallows for ACP Rathi
The CBI on Wednesday sought death penalty for suspended Assistant Commissioner of Police SS Rathi and two other policemen, who, along with seven others were convicted of killing two innocent businessmen in a fake encounter at Connaught Place in New Delhi, ten years ago.
Arguing for the CBI, Special Public Prosecutor SK Saxena submitted before Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar that culpability of head constable Mahaveer Singh, constable Kothari Ram, whose bullets had killed the victims, and that of Rathi, (who was heading the team of policemen) fell under the rarest of rare category, warranting capital punishment.
Saxena, however, did not seek death penalty for the remaining seven convicted policemen in the case.
The court had, on October 16, held all the ten policemen including ACP Rathi guilty for gunning down two Haryana-based businessmen Pradeep Goyal and Jagjit Singh on March 31, 1997.
"All the convicted persons were members of a police force and were supposed to be custodians of law and the fact that 34 rounds were fired at the helpless occupants of the car, showed the extreme depravity of their crime," the prosecutor said.
Referring to courts' own findings in its 66-page judgement, Saxena said, "Law does not allow police to kill even a dreaded gangster like Mohd Yaseen."
The policemen had said they mistook the businessmen for Uttar Pradesh-based dreaded criminal Mohd Yaseen.
"The manner in which, they (convicted policemen) have killed these two innocent businessmen proved that they had a single intention to kill Yaseen," he said.
Opposing CBI's submission, Rathi's counsel said the offence allegedly committed by his client did not fall under the rarest of rare category as he was doing lawful duty.
Seeking a lenient view, his counsel, while referring to a Supreme Court judgement, said, "Judges should never be blood-thirsty. The criminal courts should not be swayed away by sensational nature of offence."
He also said that 54-year-old Rathi, who received several gallantry awards for his services, should not be awarded capital punishment for the act which he committed while performing his lawful duty.
Noted criminal lawyer RK Naseem, appearing for convict head constable Mahaveer Singh, also sought leniency of the court saying the court should keep in view its own findings while awarding the sentence.
"We should not lose sight of the fact that Mohd Yaseen, who was allegedly being chased by convicted policemen was a dreaded gangster and had escaped from Gujarat jail after being sentenced to life imprisonment in a case," Naseem said.
The counsel for other convicts also asked the court to take a lenient view.
The court, after hearing the arguments from both the sides, deferred the pronouncement of sentence to 3 pm on Wednesday.