By commuting the death sentence awarded to Santosh Kumar Singh — for the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo — by the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court has disappointed many. The judicial process in the case — the acquittal of the accused by the trial court, awarding of the death sentence by the High Court and, now, its commutation by the Supreme Court — has taken almost 15 years. The reasoning that after his acquittal, Santosh got married, became the father of a girl child, his father died a year after his conviction and that he would have had time for reflection on his past is unacceptable in the face of the gruesome act he committed, knowing the consequences. A person's tendency to become power blind due to the position his parents hold is not unusual. It is for the authorities concerned to punish such people and ensure that such wrong does not recur.
Capt. T. Raju (retd.),
The verdict will have far-reaching implications on legal jurisprudence, especially when it comes to deciding on the rarest of rare cases. The brutal murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo was a dastardly incident. It is astonishing that the Supreme Court decided to judge the issue on emotional grounds. Until capital punishment continues to exist in the statute book, no court can hesitate to award it in cases of this nature.
Santosh snuffed out a life ruthlessly. He certainly does not deserve any mercy. It is unfortunate that such a ghastly crime is no longer considered fit for the death penalty. What makes the Priyadarshini Mattoo case unique is that the same set of evidence led to three different verdicts.
Brutal murders for gain, contract killing, rape and murder are almost out of the purview of “rarity” because of their frequent occurrence. I am reminded of what I read some time ago. A murderer pleaded for mercy on the ground that his mother would become childless if he was awarded the death sentence. This is no longer a joke considering that courts take into account factors such as the future of a criminal's children, security of his aged parents, etc., while awarding punishment. We can at least make life imprisonment 50 years in jail without parole.