Justice For Preeti Rathi | 'I Will Fight Till He's Hanged,' Resolves Preeti Rathi's Mother Roshni Devi After Bombay HC Commutes Her Attacker's Death Sentence

Law & Order

Fighting against the Bombay High Court's judgement commuting the death sentence of Ankur Panwar, acid attack victim Preeti Rathi's family- mother Roshni Devi and brother Amar Singh have appeared on Republic TV's 'Arnab Goswami on the Debate' on Tuesday at 10 PM.

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:

Fighting against the Bombay High Court's judgement commuting the death sentence of Ankur Panwar, acid attack victim Preeti Rathi's mother Roshni Devi has said that she would fight till Panwar is hanged, when she appeared on Republic TV's 'Arnab Goswami on the Debate' on Tuesday along with her son Hitesh Rathi. She added that while Panwar would live his life in prison, she had already lost her daughter and husband.

"Total injustice has happened to us. I had hoped that he (Panwar) would be hanged and that did not happen. I would have been satisfied only then. First, he used to trouble her, and once she got a job, he stole her life. I have lost my child and am very disappointed. He will live his life, where will I get back my daughter? I have vacated my house and lost my husband too due to grief (over our daughter's death). Irrespective of where I have to go, I will fight till he is hanged," said Roshni Devi.  

Preeti Rathi Acid attack case: Bombay High Court upholds attacker's conviction but commutes death penalty

Earlier in the day, the city high court upheld the conviction of a 25-year-old man in the 2013 Preeti Rathi acid attack case but commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment. A division bench of justices B P Dharmadhikari and P D Naik partly allowed the appeal filed by convict Ankur Panwar, challenging the death penalty awarded to him by a special court in 2015.

This was the first instance of the death penalty being awarded by a court in the country in a case of acid attack.

"The conviction under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 326 (b) (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid) is upheld. The death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment," the bench said.

Why was the death penalty commuted to life imprisonment?

The Bombay High Court commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment on finding that the case at hand could not be termed as rarest of the rare. The Court stated that the trial court did not apply its mind to the factors enumerated in Bachan Singh v State of Punjab and other relevant cases. These cases lay down that the death penalty should be served only in the rarest of rare cases.

The High Court found that the trial court, in this case, had relied on collective conscience and crime test but ignored the criminal test as laid down in several decisions. It also found that the mitigating factors laid down in Bachan Singh would apply in this case. Therefore, it was not an appropriate case to give a death penalty, the Court ruled. 

Its order stated:

"The accused was a young boy aged about 23 years at the time of the commission of offence. There is no past criminal record. There was nothing to indicate that the accused was beyond reformation and rehabilitation, as mandated in the case of Bachan Singh and other cases."

READ: Chhapaak: 'Aaj mere attack ko 14 saal hogaye hain', Laxmi Agarwal recalls the story of her acid attack in this touching post

Rathi, a 23-year-old nurse, who was to join the Navy hospital in Mumbai, died after an acid attack in May 2013 by her stalker Panwar. On May 2, 2013, acid was flung on Rathi when she got down from Garib Rath Express at the Bandra Railway Terminus. She was supposed to join Colaba Naval hospital INS Ashwini as a staff nurse. Having suffered severe damage to her lungs, she succumbed to the injuries on June 1 at the Bombay Hospital.

By 2030, 40% Indian will not have access to drinking water