4 convicts get rigorous life sentence for killing TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan in 2008

4 convicts get rigorous life sentence for killing TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan in 2008

New Delhi, Nov 25 (PTI) In a rare order, a Delhi court on Saturday handed down double rigorous life imprisonment to four members of an organised crime syndicate for killing TV journalist Soumya Vishwanathan around 15 years ago here.

The special court awarded two life imprisonments to Ravi Kapoor, Amit Shukla, Baljeet Malik and Ajay Kumar under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and U/s 3 (1) (1) of The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (committing organised crime resulting in the death of any person) and made clear that they will run 'consecutively'.

Vishwanathan, who was working with a leading English news channel, was shot dead in the early hours of September 30, 2008, on south Delhi's Nelson Mandela Marg while she was returning home from work. The special court did not agree to the vehement submissions of the prosecution seeking the death penalty, saying the act of the four convicts to murder the victim does not fall within the category of 'rarest of rare cases'.

Referring to some apex court verdicts, guidelines regarding the sentencing policy, submissions on behalf of the state and on behalf of the convicts and the pre-sentence report as filed by the probation officer, the court said, 'the present case and the act of the (four) convicts to murder the victim do not fall within the category of rarest of rare cases category in which the death penalty can be imposed.' The court also observed that it was 'unfortunate' that Vishwanathan who was a 'young, dynamic and hard-working journalist' lost her life due to the act of the convicts.

While sentencing Kapoor, Shukla, Malik and Kumar to double life imprisonment, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 1.25 lakh each on them.

It also handed down three years of simple imprisonment to the fifth convict Ajay Sethi under IPC section 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property).

It, however, underlined that Sethi had remained in custody for more than 14 years and accordingly the convict was sentenced to the period already undergone in incarceration during the trial for the offences under IPC Section 411 and MCOCA provisions for conspiring to abet, aid, or knowingly facilitate organised crime and receiving proceeds of organised crime.

The court imposed a fine of Rs 7.25 lakh on Sethi.

During the trial, the prosecution sought maximum punishment of death penalty for the four convicts, saying they had murdered the victim in a cold-blooded manner, without any reason or previous enmity, to rob her for the financial gain of their organised crime syndicate.

It said the convicts had caused the victim's death by firing upon her 'while treating her as a prey' and there was no provocation on the victim's part.

Citing an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, the court said, 52 per cent of women in India express a desire to work either in paid jobs or in both paid jobs and care for families and home, but India's female work participation rate has been declined over past two decades, dropping from 32 per cent in 2005 to 19 per cent in 2021.

'One of the reasons for the decline in the women's workforce is that women face a higher risk of harassment, abuse and assault while travelling to the workplace from their home and from the workplace to their home,' the court said.

'Women empowerment in the workforce will get momentum if the women's safety during their daily commute is ensured. After the incident of the Nirbhaya case, the Indian Parliament has enacted and the government has formulated many welfare legislations and schemes... to ensure the safety and well-being of the women at workplace...,' the court added.

The court further said that if the total fine amount was paid by all the convicts, then Rs 12 lakh was to be released as compensation to the parents of the victim, Rs 20,000 be deposited as litigation expenses and Rs 5,000 be paid as fine to the state.

According to the prosecution, Kapoor shot Vishwanathan with a country-made pistol while chasing her car to rob her. Shukla, Kumar and Malik were also with Kapoor.

Police recovered the car used in the murder from Sethi alias Chacha. PTI MNR SJK ZMN

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated feed.

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