This Article is From Feb 24, 2013

Delhi High Court commutes death penalty of man who killed father

New Delhi: The death sentence of a man, who had killed his father as sacrifice to a deity in 2008, has been reduced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court.

Dismissing Jitender's plea, a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Pratibha Rani said before awarding death penalty the trial court should have considered the circumstances forcing him to hack his own father.

The bench, however, upheld the trial court's conviction order against him while converting the death penalty to life imprisonment.

"He (Jitender) cannot be termed as an irredeemable murderer who is beyond the pale of reformation. Consequently, the court does not confirm the sentence of death imposed upon him. It (court), however substitutes it (death) with life imprisonment. The conviction is however, affirmed."

After examining the prosecution evidence, the bench referred to several Supreme Court judgements on human sacrifice.

It said, "The deposition of witnesses also suggests that the deceased himself was a sewadar in the temple. These facts establish that the accused was a strong believer in Goddess

"Apart from facts, the evidence on record also points to gory details, such as mutilation of the body, after the beheading of the deceased, and the accused placing the severed head in the temple...These surrounding circumstances, in the opinion of the court conclusively prove that the accused had indulged in ritual, human sacrifice of his father," the bench also said.

The trial court in January last year had awarded death penalty to Jitender for the "brutal" killing of his father.

According to prosecution, Jitender believed that if he offered a human sacrifice for the deity, his problem with his wife would be resolved.

The convict, however, had argued before the trial court that once in his dream, deity asked Jitender for a human sacrifice to ward off his problems with his wife.

"The ghastly nature of the crime, focusing on the fact that he killed an aged and defenceless individual - his father, no less-coupled with the mutilation of the body, and its beheading, has to be balanced with factors such as his social alienation, no known record of violent behaviour, relative young age (he was 25 at the time of his trial)," the court said.

The bench also directed all the lower courts to conduct medical check up of the accused for their unusual behaviour in similar cases of human sacrifice and other ritual killing.

"In all cases where the accused are alleged to have indulged in unusual behaviour, indicative of mental disorder or disturbance, (and especially in cases involving ritual killing or human sacrifice allegations)..., the magistrate taking cognisance of the offence alleged shall refer the accused for suitable medical check-up to evaluate the possibility of his (or her) being, or having been of a mental condition which might entitle her or him to avail the defence of insanity...," the court said.