New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Two coal mafias, sentenced todeath by the Jharkhand High Court for gunning down sittingstate legislator Gurudas Chatterjee in April 2000, todayescaped the gallows with the Supreme Court reducing theircapital punishment to life imprisonment.
Setting aside the capital punishment awarded to coalmafias Sheo Shankar Singh and Umesh Singh, a bench of justicesV S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur restored the life sentenceawarded to them by the trial court.
The apex court set aside the death penalty to the duo forkilling Chatterjee saying the crime did not belong to therarest of rare category.
Maintaining that "the high court was not justified inimposing the extreme penalty of death", the apex court benchsaid "we say so for reasons more than one."
"Firstly, the appellants are not professional killers.
Even according to the prosecution, they were only a part ofthe coal mafia active in the region and indulging in theft ofcoal from the collieries," the bench said.
"The deceased, being opposed to such activities, appearsto have incurred their wrath and got killed," the bench saidadding even while the deceased was a politician there was nopolitical angle to his killing."
"Though all culpable homicides amounting to murder areinhuman and hence legally and ethically unacceptable, therewas nothing particularly brutal, grotesque, diabolical,revolting or dastardly in the manner of its execution," thebench said.
It said the killings did not "arouse intense and extremeindignation of the community or exhaust depravity and meannesson the part of the assailants to call for the extreme penalty"and does not fall under the rarest of rare category.