M A I N   N E W S

Mattoo killer to be hanged
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 30
Applying the rarest of the rare principle in the murder case of Delhi University law student Priyadarshani Mattoo 10 years ago by senior faculty member Santosh Singh, now a practising lawyer, the Delhi High Court today awarded him the death sentence. It said there could be no other punishment for him than this on the face of the gravity of the crime committed.

“He shall be hanged till death”, was the verdict of a Bench of Mr Justice R.S. Sodhi and Mr Justice P.K. Bhasin, which found Santosh guilty of rape and murder of Mattoo in a judgement delivered on October 17 on the CBI appeal against his acquittal by a trial court in 1999. The Bench had deferred pronouncement of the sentence for today as it wanted to hear arguments from the prosecution and the defence on the quantum of sentence.

The court said from the strong circumstantial evidence against the convict, it was clear that the crime committed by him fell in the rarest of the rare category.

Mattoo, whom Santosh, son of former Pondicherry DGP J.P. Singh, had been stalking and harassing for over two years, was raped and murdered by him at her Vasant Kunj apartment in South Delhi on January 23, 1996.

While accepting the CBI argument for applying the same principle as had been applied by the Supreme Court in the case of Dhananjay Chatterjee of Kolkata, hanged in 2005 for the rape and murder of a teenaged schoolgirl, the Bench said, “We are of the opinion that a case of this nature, in which the crime is committed with a premeditated approach and in a grotesque manner, the convict deserves nothing other than death penalty”.

The defence counsel opposed the plea of Additional Solicitor-General Amarendra Sharan for death penalty during three-hour arguments on the grounds that the conviction had come in a reversal judgement after seven years and capital punishment was rarely awarded in such cases.

The defence also took the plea that Santosh had to look after his wife, a two-year-old child and old parents. The defence argued that there was no eyewitness and he had been convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

The court was not impressed with the pleas and said his crime was not such that a lenient view could be taken.

The court said he had been stalking and harassing the girl for more than two years and was so determined in his pursuit that he did not rest till he achieved his objective.

The court said he was so determined that he did not pay heed to the police warning and the registration of a case by Mattoo for stalking and harassing her continuously. The high court had termed the verdict of acquittal by the trial judge as perverse despite observing that he knew that Santosh was the person who had committed the crime.

Santosh was taken into custody on October 17 soon after he was pronounced guilty and was lodged in the Tihar jail.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |