New Delhi, Jan 13: Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to Sher Singh Rana, the lone convict in the sensational murder of bandit-turned-Lok Sabha member Phoolan Devi here in 2001, on a plea of city police challenging his acquittal from the charge of criminal conspiracy.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Ashutosh Kumar also sought response of Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh and Sharavan Kumar, the other co-accused, who were acquitted in the case due to lack of evidence against them.
The notice was issued after Delhi Police, through its standing counsel Varun Goswami, challenged the acquittal saying the trial court has wrongly freed the accused persons.
The court sought responses of all four by the next date of hearing on January 22.
"Issue notice to convict Sher Singh Rana for January 22... Notice to respondent no.1 (Sher Singh Rana) will be served through Tihar jail superintendent," the court said.
It further said that notice to respondents Dhan Prakash, Shekhar and Sharavan will be served by all process on the same day, through the concerned SHO. The trial court had on August 8, 2014 convicted 35-year- old Rana while acquitting the 10 other co-accused in the case.
Rana, who was awarded life term on August 14 last year, was held guilty of offences under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) under IPC in the case.
However, all the accused were acquitted of the charges under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. The court had not awarded death penalty to Rana saying, it would be "completely disproportionate" to the crime committed by him as his act cannot be termed as an attack on Parliament and does not fall under the rarest of rare category.
It had also observed that facts of the case do not fall in the category of rarest of rare as the motive behind the murder could not be established. 37-year-old Phoolan, then a Samajwadi Party MP from Mirzapur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead from a close range by three masked gunmen in front of her Ashoka Road residence here in the heart of the capital's VIP area when she returned home for lunch after attending Lok Sabha session on July 25, 2001.
The proceedings against accused Pradeep Singh were abated after he died in Tihar Jail in November 2013. Delhi Police had chargesheeted 11 men accusing them of eliminating Phoolan to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she had allegedly killed a number of Thakurs.