New Delhi : The Supreme Court has dismissed a Punjab government plea for death sentences to two men who, in collusion with their common concubine, had hacked to death her husband and son besides two others in Sirhind town in June 1994.
In a controversial ruling, the court held that the two need not be sent to the gallows as they committed the mass murder under infatuation, swayed mentally off balance by their concubine’s tales of woes and harassment by her family members – which serve as the “mitigating factors” to the gravity of crime.
“It is no doubt true that both men behaved in a most cruel manner and killed four people while they were asleep. But there are certain mitigating circumstances in the case which cannot be lost sight of,” held the bench of Justice Mukundakam Sharma and Justice B.S. Chauhan.
“The behaviour of both the men would show that they acted in the manner being driven more by infatuation and also being devoid of their sense on coming to know about the ill treatment meted out to Bhinder Kaur (their concubine),” the court said in its ruling, which was delivered May 28 but released later.
“Though the act of the accused is a gruesome one but it was a result of human mind going astray. No doubt, they acted in a ghastly manner for which, in our considered view, they have been adequately punished with life sentence awarded by the high court,” the bench said.
Sirhind municipal commissioner Sewa Singh was hacked to death along with his son Rachhpal Singh alias Happy and two sewadars (helpers), Inderjit Singh and Kuldeep Singh, of the local gurudwara.
The murders were committed by two former sewadars of the gurudwara, Kamaljit Singh and Manjit Singh, who had developed an illicit relationship with Sewa Singh’s wife Bhinder Kaur.
The killers had come in contact with Sewa Singh and his family members as he used to recite holy scriptures in the Sikh shrine. They committed the mass murders after Kaur told them that her husband and son had reprimanded her for having illicit relationships with them.
A trial court had awarded death penalty to the two men and life sentence to the woman. But the Punjab and Haryana High Court had changed the death sentence for the two men to life in jail.
It was against this judgment of the high court that the Punjab government had come to the apex court, demanding gallows for the two mass murders. But the apex court ruled that infatuated men committing the mass murder need not be sent to gallows.