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Former top cop escapes the gallows

Delhi HC reduces RP Tyagi's punishment to eight years rigorous imprisonment saying the offence of murder could not be proved, reports Harish V Nair.
Hindustan Times | By Harish V Nair, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2008 12:18 AM IST

Delhi Police former ACP RP Tyagi, sentenced to death by a lower court in a custodial death case, got some respite with the Delhi High Court on Wednesday reducing his punishment to eight years rigorous imprisonment saying the offence of murder could not be proved against him.

Public Prosecutor Sunil Sharma told Hindustan Times a decision on filing an appeal against the verdict would be taken after examining the judgement.

The case dates back to August 1987, when Mohinder Kumar was arrested along with Ram Kumar on charges of teasing a girl and assaulting a constable who had gone to arrest them. The duo was tortured at the Vivek Vihar police station in East Delhi. A day later, they were found lying in the nearby fields. While Mohinder died in hospital, Ram Kumar survived and became a crucial witness in the case.

Tyagi was the SHO of the police station. The trial court, while sentencing Tyagi on December 18, 2006, said the charges of murder were proved and it was one of the rarest of rare cases that merited death penalty. However, the High Court bench of Justices Mukul Mudgal and PK Bhasin, while hearing his appeal, said he could at best only be convicted for culpable homicide, as the intention to murder was not proved.

"We find ourselves unable to sustain the conviction of the appellant under section 302 (murder) of the IPC. This case clearly falls under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder)," the Bench said, and gave Tyagi the "most stringent" punishment under the section. "Nothing is more dehumanising as the conduct of a police officer in inflicting torture on a person in their custody. The accused being SHO of the police station, in our view, deserves the most severe punishment because the upholder of law turned into a lawbreaker," the Bench said.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs two lakh on Tyagi. In addition to this, the court also directed the Delhi government to pay Rs two lakh as compensation to her. The Bench also decided the appeals filed by two other accused, former ACP KP Singh and Sub-Inspector Tej Singh, who were earlier awarded one and three years sentence respectively for their complicity in the offence. While KP Singh was acquitted, Tej Singh's sentence was reduced to six months.

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