Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quantum of punishment in Jessica Lall case

The Delhi High Court has found Manu Sharma guilty of murdering Jessica Lall under Section 302 of IPC.

The NDTV reports on its website (today, December 20, 2006):

It is a big day at the Delhi High Court where a two-judge bench will sentence Manu Sharma and his co-accused Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill in the Jessica Lall murder case.
The court is hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defence before it decides on the quantum of punishment.

Was Manu Sharma's action premeditated?

Perhaps, not. He appears to have acted in the heat of the moment. If so, the the death penalty may be unwarranted.

However, there are others in the Jessica Lall case who could be guilty of lesser crimes.

But they acted with greater premeditation and for their own advantages. So shouldn't they be tried and awarded the maximum punishment for crimes they may be convicted of?

The co-accused

Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill have been found guilty of abetting the crime and destroying evidence. Their arrest was also ordered by the High Court.

They already face sentencing by the court.

Delhi Police officers

The Delhi Police was ordered by the High Court to investigate the role of its officials, who allegedly tampered with the evidence and influenced the investigations. 

I'm not trained in law, but don't they become accessories-after-the-fact?

"AN accessory after the fact may be, where a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon.17 Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.18 In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him."

Source: William Blackstone quoted in Wikipedia article on legal definition of an Accessory.

The judge that heard the case at trial stage

And finally what about Justice S. L. Bhayana, whose judgement has been found "perverse" at some place by the High Court?

Originally hailing from Rohtak in Haryana, Bhayana was a practising lawyer in Tis Hazari courts for 12 years before he became a judge. He was overlooked for promotion in 2004 but got it immediately after the Jessica judgement. 



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