Calcutta HC acquits death penalty convict in Kamduni gangrape, murder case

Calcutta HC acquits death penalty convict in Kamduni gangrape, murder case

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File
| Photo Credit: Sushanta Patronobish

The Calcutta High Court on Friday acquitted a capital punishment convict and commuted the death sentence of two others to life imprisonment in the gangrape and murder of a woman at Kamduni in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas. The gangrape and murder of the 21-year-old college student on June 7, 2013 had shocked the State and triggered public outrage.

A Division Bench of Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Ajay Kumar Gupta acquitted Amin Ali and commuted the death sentence of Saiful Ali and Ansar Ali to imprisonment till the end of their natural life.

The trial court had in 2016 awarded capital punishment to Amin Ali, Saiful Ali and Ansar Ali, while Imanul Islam, Aminul Islam and Bhola Naskar had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The other three convicts, namely Imanul Islam, Aminul Islam ad Bhola Naskar, who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by the lower court, were set free by the High Court as they have already completed 10 years behind bars since the time the investigation started in the case.

The High Court observed that the trial court erred in awarding death penalty with reference to the gravity of the offence alone and the State has failed to prove the conspiracy in the crime beyond reasonable doubt.  The Bench pointed out that the State has not led evidence to rebut the possibility of reformation and rehabilitation, and on the other hand, the conduct of the appellants in the correctional home is satisfactory.

“Alternative punishment of life imprisonment for the remainder of natural life is a more humane substitute that adequately addresses societal concerns of recidivism,” the Bench observed.

To move SC

Family members of the victim said they would approach the Supreme Court against the High Court orders.  Drawing parallels with the 2012 Delhi gang rape, commonly referred to as Nirbhaya case, the brothers of the victim said the investigation by the CID was not properly carried out.

Sources in the West Bengal government said the State is also considering challenging the order in the Supreme Court. The gangrape and murder had triggered series of protests and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had to face protests by locals when she visited the village after the incident. Ms. Banerjee had assured capital punishment to the accused.

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