Friday, March 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bibi Jagir’s terms for appearance
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, March 2 — In a significant development, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth through a controversial edict, has agreed to appear before Akal Takht if directed by the five Sikh High Priests of all Takhts.

In a one-paged letter delivered by special emissaries of Bibi Jagir Kaur at the residence of Giani Puran Singh here today, she stated. “I am ready to accept any directive of the five Sikh High Priests of all Takhts in the larger interests of the Sikh Panth as a humble Sikh”.

“I shall continue to be dedicated to Akal Takht and endeavour to resolve the present crisis”, the letter read. Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, however, parried a question in this regard.

While Giani Puran Singh had insisted that Bibi Jagir Kaur appear at Akal Takht before the ‘Panj Piaras’ who had excommunicated her from Guna (Madhya Pradesh) on January 25, Bibi Jagir Kaur had insisted that only designated Jathedar of Takhts should be present at the time of her appearance at Akal Takht.

Five Sikh High Priests, including Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, Giani Mohan Singh. Head Granthi, Golden Temple, Giani Charn Singh and Giani Gurbachan Singh, both Granthis at the Golden Temple, rejected the ‘hukamnama’ excommunicating the Bibi.

They had stated that the edict had not been issued in accordance with the Sikh “maryada.” Giani Bhagwan Singh Head Granthi, Akal Takht had announced that he would resign if Bibi Jagir Kaur appeared before Akal Takht on the basis of the controversial hukamnama.


Murder, rape convicts
Slap heavy fines on heinous crime convicts
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 2 — The Punjab and Haryana High Court today took exception to the manner in which trial courts impose petty fines on persons convicted of murder, rape and other crime.

Converting the death sentence awarded to Santokh Singh, a resident of Jhaloor village in Sangrur district, into life imprisonment by the Sessions Judge for murdering his sister-in-law and injuring his nephew and niece, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh held that the amount of fine should have a rational relationship to the loss.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Gupta said: “We have repeatedly noticed that the courts are imposing fine of petty amounts. In our view the purpose of Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code is not being correctly appreciated. The provision indicates that the amount recovered can be applied in the payment of compensation for loss or injury caused by the offence” said the Judge and added: “When the amount of fine is a few hundred rupees, the compensation for loss would be a mere joke; in fact, a cruel joke.”

Despite having commuted the sentence of death to that of life imprisonment, the Bench observed. “We feel that it is not the end of the case. The victims of the crime continue to suffer. Society needs to worry for the victims too.”

In their 32-page judgement the Judges ruled that the Criminal Justice Delivery System gives justice to the criminal. It gives every reasonable concession to the sinners against God and man. “They are fed and housed. They are given legal, medical, psychological and psychiatric aid. Even education and vocational training are provided to them. It may be correct for the state to utilise its meagre resources to rehabilitate and even pamper unrepentant violators of law.”

“We have to imagine the torture, the trauma that the victims — the children that are abused, the women who are assaulted, the men who have been blinded, the parents whose children have been molested and murdered go through even after they have borne the initial shock of the crime,” said the Judges.

The victims of crime, the judgement said “the victims of a slanderer’s tongue, the victims of an assassin’s dagger have been the forgotten children of the Criminal Justice Delivery System. And yet society expects the victims to support the system. The agony begins when the person goes to lodge the report. It continues till the end of the trial. The victim is made to go through the sole job of repeating the gory details of the crime. He is subjected to the anguishing agony of a ruthless cross examination. At the end, he has to often bear the ignominy and indignation of being disbelieved in spite of having told the whole truth.”

The plight of the victim under our present system was pitiable the judgement added. In the present day world, “it is not the criminal but the victim who shirks and dodges the public eye. He is angry and insecure, even vulnerable. He alone suffers the physical, the psychological and financial hardships that follow the crime. The psychological wounds last longer than the physical injuries. The post-crime distress does not end with the conviction of the criminal. Mere punishment to the criminal does not give full justice to the victim. The system must be responsive to the needs of the victim.”

The judgement stated that Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly permitted the courts to direct the payment of a reasonable compensation to the victim. For this purpose, the fine that the court might impose had to be realistic. It should be adequate. The accused should have the means to pay it. The economic position of the criminal, his family and other relevant factors had to be kept in view. At the same time, the compensation should be calculated to really compensate and not be merely symbolic. It should have a reasonable relationship with the factual position.

The Bench slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Santokh Singh. This amount of fine would be given to Kiranjit Kaur and her father, Surinder Singh, victim of the crime.

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