Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brother killer gets lifer.

Pravin Mahajan was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment for the cold blooded murder of his elder brother and senior BJP leader Pramod Mahajan but the prosecution said it would appeal pressing for the maximum death penalty.

Rejecting the prosecution plea for capital punishment, Additional sessions judge S P Davare said "the murder is not a rarest of rare cases and therefore death need not be indicted. This is not an extreme case of grave culpability".

The sentence was pronounced a day after Pravin(48) was convicted on charges of murder and house trespass with the intention to commit a serious offence.

In addition to the life term for the murder, Pravin was sentenced to five years' rigorous imprisonment for house trespass. Both the terms will run concurrently. The convict was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 15,000 and Rs 5,000 for the murder and trespass offences respectively.

Pravin was convicted of shooting Pramod three times with his licensed revolver at his Worli residence on the morning of April 22, 2006, Pramod succumbed to his injuries in a city hospital 12 days later.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said the prosecution would appeal in the high court for an enhancement of the sentence after studying the judgment.

"We will read the judgment after which we will seek an enhancement of the sentence from the Bombay High Court," Nikam told reporters outside the court. He said the murder fell in the rarest of rare cases category since he has killed the "concept of brotherhood."

Pramod Mahajan's family said justice has been done in the case though they had sympathy for the wife and children of Pravin who were suffering for his acts.

During arguments on quantum of punishment, the prosecution sought death sentence for Pravin, saying he deserved no leniency since he had murdered his brother "in a brutal manner with total disregard to human life."

Nikam said Pravin deserved death sentence as the whole case fell within the purview of "rarest of rare" category due to its brutality and cold-bloodedness.

Nikam later told reporters that there is also some attitudinal problem with Pravin as he kept blaming his brother even after his death. "These blames were made to torture the family of Pramod Mahajan. Death sentence is the appropriate punishment to end this crookedness. We called it rarest of the rare because it was pre-planned," he said.

The defence counsel, however, argued against death penalty saying the case did not fall within the ambit of "rarest of rare" category.

He said the prosecution has failed to establish the motive behind murder. Hence, awarding death sentence in the absence of vital information would be improper because if at some later stage, some other information comes up then life cannot be brought back.

Pravin was convicted under section 302 (murder) and section 449 (house trespass with an intention to commit an offence punishable with death) of the IPC.

The court relied on the statements of Pramod's widow Rekha, domestic help Mahesh Wankhede and Pramod's statement made to BJP leader Gopinath Munde while on his way to the hospital, which was treated as a dying declaration.

The judge also considered the medical evidence, ballistic reports, the handwriting expert's report and Pravin's statement, recorded in-camera after the prosecution claimed it could be defamatory to the Mahajan family.

Nikam also said the offences committed by Pravin was compounded by his act of "deprivity" when he levelled allegations against Pramod's character.

Munde, who was flanked by Rekha and Pramod's two children--Rahul and Poonam, said it was up to the state government to decide on appealing for enhancement of the sentence. Munde is also Pramod's brother-in-law. "It is the court's decision that punishment should be of what type and amount but he was convicted and that it is important for us," Munde said

"The act of the accused(Pravin) is unfortunate. Both the families(Pravin and Pramod) have suffered a lot due to his crime. But we have no bad feelings to his wife, children but our sympathies are with them," he added.

Munde said Pramod's mother suffered a lot after the crime and she wished that "the murderer of his beloved son should be punished."

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