New Delhi: Finding fault with the Allahabad High Court for altering the capital punishment of a man to life imprisonment, the Supreme Court has issued notice as to why death penalty should not be awarded to him for killing his wife and four minor children.
   
A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and C K Prasad felt the high court had taken an erroneous view of altering the death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground that the convict came from a poor family.
   
"We cannot imagine a more ghastly act and we are, prima facie, of the opinion that this falls in the category of rarest of rare cases in which death sentence should have been given. The trial court, no doubt, awarded death sentence to the respondent but the High Court reduced it to life sentence.”
   
Prima facie, we find the reasoning of the high court to be strange. Merely because a person is in financial crisis does not mean that he is at liberty to commit ghastly and gruesome murders.
     
"It appears that the wife of the accused was of a noble character that tried to reform him but the accused, rather than being reformed, committed these monstrous crimes. We fail to understand how the High Court could reduce the death sentence in these circumstances," the apex court said.
   
Alok Verma murdered his wife and four children (three sons and one daughter) and caused injuries to another daughter with knife and axe taking the help of a hired person. This is because his wife protested against his indulging in gambling, taking liquor and crimes like kidnapping. He had earlier undergone imprisonment for one year in a case of kidnapping. His wife tried to persuade him not to commit these illegal acts but instead he would often beat her.
   
On July 7, 2005, he murdered his wife and four children, aged about 10, 8, 5 and 2 years respectively.
   
Only one daughter Priyanka managed to survive and proved a crucial witness to the ghastly crime.
   
"The surviving daughter Priyanka is an eye witness and that apart there is convincing circumstantial evidence also on the basis of which the respondent has been convicted by the courts below.”
   
These injuries show the brutal manner in which the deceased were killed and injuries were caused to Priyanka. Apparently, the throats of the deceased were cut with a knife and their heads smashed with an axe, the bench said.
   
Hence, the bench issued a notice to the convict as to why life imprisonment should not be converted to death.

(Agencies)