Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Court sentences Budgam man to life imprisonment for killing woman

Srinagar: The Court of Principal Sessions Judge Srinagar Abdul Rashid Malik sentenced Javaid Ahmad Bhat S/o Abdul Gani Bhat R/o Kremshore Khan Sahib, Budgam to imprisonment for life.

The accused was convicted under section 302 RPC on 13-03-3021 for causing the death of Mst. Gulshana D/o Ghulam Hassan Sofi R/o Kremshore Budgam.

While sentencing the convict, the Court observed that convict is a young man of 29 years of age and is in judicial custody since the date of his arrest. There is nothing on record from which it can be deduced that accused cannot be reformed or rehabilitated or he will prove a menace for the society if not awarded the death penalty.

As laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the cases discussed supra that brutality and manner in which murder was purported may be a ground but not the sole criteria for judging whether the case is “rarest of rate cases”. Every murder is brutal and difference between one from another may be on account of mitigating or aggravating features surrounding the murder.

To conclude, on preparation of the balance sheet of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, length of detention for which the convict remained in custody and his age speak for the fact that the case cannot be bracketed as one of the “rarest of rare case”.

Therefore, keeping in view the entire facts and circumstances of the case, this is not a fit case for inflicting death sentence under Section 302 RPC, therefore, it will be just and proper to sentence the convict Javaid Ahmad Bhat S/o Abdul Gani Bhat R/o Kramshore Khan Sahib, Budgam to imprisonment for life under section 302 RPC and execution of the sentence of life imprisonment shall be subject to confirmation of the High Court in terms of Section 374 of Cr.P.C.

While granting compensation of Rs.5.00 lakhs to the mother of the victim namely Mst. Zainab (Aged 55 years) W/o Ghulam Hassan Sofi R/o Kremshore Budgam, the Court observed that every criminal Court is also under a legal duty to apply its mind to the question of compensation to the victim of the crime. The deceased was a young girl. The criminal justice system has to address the plight of the victim also. Mere punishment will not satisfy the victim who has suffered as a result of commission of the crime. She was killed so brutally but the real victims are her parents. One cannot assess the shock and trauma caused to her parents, near and dear ones. No amount of compensation can repair the irreparable loss caused.

It has been held by the Supreme Court in Manohar Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan 2015 Supreme Court (SC) 42, wherein the Supreme Court has held as under:

We find that the Court of Sessions and the High Court have not fully focused on the need to compensate the victim which can now be taken to be integral to just sentencing. Order of sentence in a criminal case needs due application of mind. The Court has to give attention not only to the nature of crime, prescribed sentence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances to strike just a balance in needs of society and fairness to the accused, but also to keep in mind the need to give justice to the victim of crime. In spite of legislative changes and decisions of this Court, this aspect at times escapes attention. Rehabilitating a victim is as important as punishing the accused. Victim’s plight cannot be ignored even when a crime goes unpunished for want of adequate evidence.

While making the reference to the High Court for confirmation of the sentence, the Court observed that the entire record be submitted to High Court for confirmation of the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to convict Javaid Ahmad Bhat S/o Abdul Gani Bhat R/o Kramshore Khan Sahaib Budgam. Learned Registrar Judicial, High Court of J&K may place the Reference before the appropriate Hon’ble Bench. Convict has been apprised regarding his right to prefer an appeal, if he is desirous to do so. Copy of the conviction and sentence be furnished to him free of cost. Copy of the Judgment shall also be forwarded to Member Secretary, J&K Legal Services Authority, Srinagar for release of compensation of Rs.5.00 lacs in favour of the mother of the victim namely Mst. Zainab (Aged 55 years) W/o Ghulam Hassan Sofi R/o Kremshore Budgam. Copy of the conviction and sentence shall also be forwarded to Secretary, High Court Legal Services Committee, Srinagar with a request to extend free ad competent legal services to the convict if he so desires and also make him aware that he has a right to file an appeal and in case any legal assistance is required to be extended to the convict, the same shall be extended to him as per J&K Legal Services Authority Act read with J&K Free and Competent Legal Service Regulations 2010.

Further while quoting the observation of Supreme Court, the Court observed that we live in a civilized society where law and order is supreme and the citizens enjoy inviolable fundamental human rights. But when the incident like the present one surfaces, it causes ripples in the conscience of the society and serious doubts are raised as to whether we really live in a civilized society and whether both men and women feel the same sense of liberty and freedom which they should have felt in ordinary course of a civilized society, driven by rule of law. Certainly, whenever such grave violations of human dignity come to fore, an unknown sense of insecurity and helplessness grabs the entire society, women in particular, and the only succor people ask for, is the state to take command of the situation and remedy it effectively. The statistics of National Crime Records Bureau show that despite progress made by women in education and in various fields and changes brought in ideas of women’s rights, respect for women is on the decline and crimes against women on the increase. Offences against women are not a women’s issue alone, but, human rights issue. Increased rate of crime against the women is an area of concern for law-makers and it points out an emergent need to study in depth the root of the problem and remedy the same through a strict law and order regime. There are number of legislations and numerous penal provisions to punish the offenders of violence against women. However, it becomes important to ensure that gender justice does not remain only on paper.

We have a responsibility to set good values and guidance for posterity. Crime against the women not only affects women self esteem and dignity but degrades the pace of societal development. The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment for its women. This incident must be an eye opener for a mass movement “to end violence against the women” and “respect for women and her dignity” and sensitizing the public at large on gender justice. Every individual, irrespective of his/her gender must be willing to assume the responsibility in fighting for gender justice and also awaken public opinion on gender justice. Public at large, in particular men, are to be sensitized on gender justice. The battle for gender justice can be won only with strict implementation of legislative provisions, sensitization of the public, taking over proactive steps at all levels for competing violence against the women and ensuring widespread attitudinal changes and comprehensive change in the existing mind set.

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