The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and life sentence awarded to two people for murdering a woman in West Bengal in 1993 for performing “witchcraft” while rejecting their contention that they had no common intention to kill her.
The apex court said, after looking at the “clinching evidence”, and in absence of any specific lacuna in the testimony of the witnesses and the documentary evidence adduced, it was of the opinion that the trial court had not committed any error in convicting and sentencing them.
A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal said the Calcutta High Court had rightly affirmed their conviction and sentence.
The top court was hearing the appeal of Bhaktu Gorain and Bandhu Gorain against the July 2010 judgement of the high court.
“In the light of the above clinching evidence and in the absence of any specific lacuna in the testimony of the witnesses and the documentary evidence adduced, we are of the opinion that the trial court had not committed any error in convicting and sentencing the accused persons with imprisonment of life,” the bench said in its verdict delivered on Tuesday.
It dealt with the claim of the counsel representing the two appellants that they never had a common intention to kill the deceased and that they simply wanted to teach her a lesson to deter her from indulging in “witchcraft” in future.
“The submission is devoid of any merit as admittedly an altercation had taken place between the parties on the previous night in which all the five accused persons were present and it is in furtherance of the said quarrel that all of them had appeared in the morning with reinforced vengeance,” the bench said.
It said the fact that the accused had assembled the next morning and surrounded the victim with deadly weapons was “sufficient indication” to infer that they did it in a pre-planned manner with a pre-determined mind.
“Thus, the submission that they had no common intention stands completely ruled out,” it said.
The bench noted the detention certificates issued to the two appellants by the superintendent of Midnapore central correctional home in October last year certifies that they have served a total period of 15 years nine months and 24 days as on the date of the certificate.
“They are, therefore, permitted to seek remission in accordance with the prevailing policy of the state and it is expected that if any such application/representation is made by them, it shall be duly considered on its own merits,” it said, while dismissing the appeal.
The apex court said the application shall be decided within three months from the date of filing.
It noted that an FIR was lodged in September 1993 at a police station in West Bengal’s Purulia by the eldest son of the deceased alleging that the victim was surrounded by the five accused who assaulted her and she died at the spot.
The bench noted that an appeal filed by three other convicts awarded life term in the case was dismissed by the apex court earlier.