NEW DELHI : Condemning in the most severe words the act of a tribal [priest] sacrificing a nine-year-old child to appease a deity in Jharkhand, the Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty awarded to him and said that in such cases the extreme punishment “should be the rule”.
A Bench comprising Justice Doraiswamy Raju and Justice Arijit Pasayat, upholding the death sentence to Suhsil Murmu, said, “this is an illustrative and most exemplary case to be treated as ‘rarest of rare cases’ in which death sentence is and should be the rule with no exception whatsoever.”
Murmu had sacrificed Chirku Besra before Goddess Kali on December 11, 1996 and dumped the head in a pond.
Advocate Anil Kumar Mittal, counsel for Murmu, had contended that though superstition was not expected and encouraged in a modern society, yet an illiterate tribal brought up in an atmosphere surcharged with superstition should not be awarded death penalty.
Rejecting the plea, Justice Pasayat, writing for the Bench, said, “superstition cannot and does not provide justification for any killing, much less a planned and deliberate one.
“No amount of superstitious colour can wash away the sin and offence of an unprovoked killing, more so in the case of an innocent and defenceless child,” he added.
The apex court said that a bare look at the fact situation of this case showed that Murmu was not possessed of the basic humanness and completely lacked the psyche or mindset which could be amenable for any reformation.
He had at the time of occurrence a child of same age as of the victim and yet he had diabolically designed in a most dastardly and revolting manner to sacrifice a very hapless and helpless child of another for personal gain and to promote his fortune by pretending to appease the deity, the Bench said.
Justice Pasayat said, “even if the helpless and imploring face and voice of the innocent child did not arouse any trace of kindness in the heart of the accused, the non-chalant way in which he carried the severed head in a gunny bag and threw it in the pond unerringly shows the act was diabolic of most superlative degree in conception and cruel in execution.”
The act of the accused “borders on a crime against humanity indicative of greatest depravity shocking the conscience of not only any right thinking person but of the courts of law, as well.”
While upholding the death sentence awarded to Murmu, the apex court said, “criminal propensities of the accused are clearly spelt out from the fact that similar accusations involving human sacrifice existed at the time of trial.
“Though the result could not be brought on record, yet the fact that similar accusation was made against the accused Murmu for which he was facing trial cannot be lost sight of,” it added.