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Court commutes death penalty to life for acid attack convict

Published : Jun 13, 2019, 2:46 am IST
Updated : Jun 13, 2019, 2:46 am IST

They also claimed that Mr Panwar did not have the intention to kill her but it was an attempt to disfigure her.

 (Representational Image)
  (Representational Image)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded to Ankur Panwar for killing Preeti Rathi by throwing acid on her on May 2, 2013 - to life imprisonment.

Ms Rathi had died of multiple organ failure a month later. Had the death sentence been maintained, it would have been the first such instance in the country in an acid attack case.

While commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment, the division bench of Justice B.P. Dharmadhikari and Justice P.D. Naik took into consideration the mitigating circumstances, as enunciated in the Bachan Singh case. The bench held that while awarding the death sentence to Mr Panwar, the trial court had not applied its mind to the factors articulated in the Bachan Singh judgment.

The judges held that the trial court should have taken into consideration whether the offence had been committed under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance as also the age of the accused.

Furthermore, the court should have also considered the probability that the accused would not commit criminal acts of violence constituting a continuing threat to society, and the probability that the accused could be reformed and rehabilitated as there was no past criminal record.

Mr Panwar’s lawyers Trideep Pais, Vijay Hiremat and others argued before the high court that all the above mentioned mitigating circumstances were present in this case, including the fact that the accused was only 23-year-old, and hence, he should not be awarded capital punishment.

They also claimed that Mr Panwar did not have the intention to kill her but it was an attempt to disfigure her.

“Taking into consideration the overall circumstances, we do not find that the present case can be termed as ‘rarest of rare’ and hence, the appellant does not deserve the death penalty,” the bench ruled, adding, “Hence, the sentence of death penalty is required to be set aside while confirming the conviction.”

Tags: bombay high court, acid attack