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SC upholds death sentence to couple for killing seven of girl’s family

New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday upheld the death sentence of a couple for exterminating all the seven members of the girl’s family, holding that the “couple indulged in such debased act of multiple murders driven by infatuation and exhibited no remorse”.

Upholding the death sentence of Shabnam and her paramour Salim, a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Arun Mishra said: “The accused persons’ preparedness, active involvement, scheming execution and subsequent conduct reeks of calculated and motivated murders.”

Pronouncing the judgment, Chief Justice Dattu said: “The act of slaughtering a ten month old child by strangulation in no chance reflects immature action but evidence for the lack of remorse, kindness and humanity. The crime is committed in the most cruel and inhuman manner which is extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical and revolting.”

Therefore, the court said that the “instant case requires us to award a punishment that is graduated and proportioned to the crime… we have reached the inescapable conclusion that the extreme culpability of both the appellants – accused (Shabnam and Salim) makes them the most deserving for death penalty”.

On the intervening night of April 14/14, 2008, Shabnam had killed her mother, father, her elder brother, his wife, their 10-month old child, another brother and her minor niece.

Holding that the accused girl was from an educated family and herself a teacher, the court said: “Such a deed would be sufficiently appalling were the perpetrator and the victims are uneducated and backward, but it gains a ghastly illumination from the descent, moral upbringing, and elegant respectful living of the educated family where the father and daughter are both teachers.”

Noting the disregard of the accused girl for the familial ties, the court said: “Not only did she forget her love for and duty towards her family, but also perpetrated the multiple homicide in her own house so as to fulfill her desire to be with the co-accused Salim and grab the property leaving no heir but herself.”

Here is a case, the court said, “where the daughter, (Shabnam), who has been brought up in an educated and independent environment by her family and was respectfully employed as a Shikshamitra (teacher) at the school, influenced by the love and lust of her paramour has committed this brutal parricide exterminating seven lives including that of an innocent child”.

Both Shabnam and Salim hatched the conspiracy to liquidate all the family members of girl – who was also pregnant outside of wedlock by Salim – as they were opposed to their alliance. The accused girl first administered her family members with sedatives mixed in tea prepared by her and thereafter, bled them to death by “slitting the vital blood vessels in their throats”.

A trial court convicted and sentenced them to death in July 2008 and the decision was upheld by the Allahabad High Court on April 26, 2013.