The Supreme Court on Monday strongly deprecated the inaction of the police in not intervening to save the lives of three innocent college girls when the bus was burning.

A Bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice B.S. Chauhan said: “This crime occurred right in the middle of a busy city. Innocent girls trapped in a burning bus were shouting for help and only the male students from their university came to their rescue and succeeded in saving some of them. There were a large number of people, including shopkeepers, mediapersons, and police personnel and none of them considered it proper to help in their rescue. Even if the common man fails to respond to the call of his conscience, the police should not have remained inactive.”

The Bench said: “The so-called administration did not bother to find out why the police did not intervene and assist in the rescue of the girl students. It is clear that the so-called protectors of society stood there and witnessed such a heinous crime being committed and allowed the burning of the bus and roasting of the innocent children without being reprimanded for failing in their duty. If the common citizens and public officials present at the scene of the crime had done their duty, the death of the three innocent young girls could have been prevented.”

The Bench said: “Life imprisonment is the rule and death penalty an exception. The rarest of the rare case comes when a convict would be a menace and threat to the harmonious and peaceful co-existence of society. Where an accused does not act on any spur-of-the-moment provocation and he indulged himself in a deliberately planned crime and meticulously executed it, the death sentence may be the most appropriate punishment for such a ghastly crime.”

Taking a lenient view and not imposing the appropriate punishment would be a mockery of justice.

It said to permit the accused to escape the extreme penalty of law when faced with such evidence and such cruel acts and to give a lesser punishment would be to render the justice system of this country suspect.

The Bench said the common man would lose faith in the courts if the punishment was not proportional to the offence committed.

Pointing out that there was no justification for the commission of such a brutal offence in this case, it declined to interfere with the death sentence awarded by the courts below to the three main accused.

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