Punjab and Haryana high court says sell convicts’ assets
March 20, 2019 08:30 PM NPT
CHANDIGARH, March 20: In a rarest of a rare order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that death sentence was not enough and properties of convicts in heinous crime cases should be sold for recovery of a heavy fine to be slapped on them.
The ruling came as a Division Bench imposed a fine of INR 5 million while upholding death sentence awarded to seven convicts in a gangrape and murder case.
The Rohtak Deputy Commissioner was also directed to identify immovable properties of all convicts within a month and sell the attached assets two months thereafter.
The convicts, Rajesh, Pawan, Sunil aka Mada, Padam, Sarwar, Manbir and Sunil aka Sheela, had moved the High Court after they were sentenced to be “hanged by the neck till they are dead” for murder and criminal conspiracy under Sections 302 and 120-B of IPC. They were also awarded imprisonment for rest of their natural life for gang rape under Section 376-D of the IPC.
Another accused, Somvir, committed suicide in Delhi the day the first accused was arrested. A murder case was registered at the Sadar police station in Rohtak after a body was found from the fields in February 2015. The police was told that the victim, aged about 27, was differently abled and brought from Nepal to Rohtak. She was residing with her sister. Acting on a tip-off, the police caught hold of Padam, who during interrogation disclosed the names of all other accused.
Taking up the matter, the Bench of Justice AB Chaudhari and Justice Surinder Gupta added that it was shocked to see the number and nature of injuries inflicted through “brutal and predatory acts of perpetrators of the barbaric crime”.
The Bench asserted it found that stern penal laws were in places, yet deterrence in the matter of sentences, including death, was not satisfactory. “We think the imposition of heavy fine, which if recovered by sale of the properties of the guilty, would prove an additional deterrent,” it said, adding the victim or relatives would also find some solace if they were compensated by selling the properties of the guilty.
The Bench added that INR 5 million fines was appropriate, taking into consideration the entire factual matrix of the matter. It was quite possible that one or more of the convicts were not owning or possessing immovable property. However, if they could come together to commit the crime jointly and individually, and not one of them resisted, liability to pay fine must be made jointly and severally. The Bench said half of the sale proceeds would go to the state and the remaining to the victim’s sister.