ON THE PRIYADARSHINI MATTOO VERDICT
7th October 2010
AIDWA expresses concern over the Supreme Court verdict commuting the death sentence of Santosh Singh to life sentence in the Priyadarshini Mattoo rape and murder case, while upholding that the accused is guilty of the crime. The Division Bench has cited mitigating circumstances which include the young age of the accused at the time of the murder, and his having married and being the father of a child after his acquittal by the lower Court in 1999. They have also referred to aggravating circumstances like “the tendency of parents to be overindulgent to their progeny often resulting in the most horrendous situations”.
These factors cannot reduce the gravity of a crime which was premeditated and executed in the most brutal and heinous fashion. Santosh Singh had stalked Priyadarshini Mattoo for 2 years before committing the crime, after having been warned off by the police on the basis of her complaint. His acquittal in the Lower Court because of the undue influence wielded by his father, then a senior police official, sparked off widespread protests against the miscarriage of justice. Subsequently, the case was tried in the Delhi High Court, where he was found guilty and given the death sentence. The High Court pointed out that Santosh Singh had been given many chances to reform by the police, but he did not mend his ways, and had ultimately committed this ghastly murder.
Considering that the facts of the case remain undisputed, and that the same Bench of the Supreme Court has acknowledged that such incidents involving those “with power and pelf” have been “regular and alarming”, AIDWA feels that commuting the death sentence to life indicates an unwarranted leniency towards perpetrators of such crimes. Women’s vulnerability to crimes of this nature is at an all time high. AIDWA would like to appeal to the learned judges that the law must be sensitive to the call of justice, and therefore, the judgment may be reconsidered and the penalty restored.