Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, upheld the conviction of Serial Killer ChandrakantJha. In three separate judgments, Division Bench comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and R.K. Gauba, however did not confirm the death sentence awarded by the Trial Court, but sentenced him to life imprisonment without release on remission.The Court upheld the conviction holding that the Similar Fact Evidence admissible, RTI replies cannot be used to discard evidence on record, confessionary letters to police officers not hit by Section 25 and 26 of Evidence Act.
ChandrakantJhawas convicted by the Trial court for murder of three persons and sentenced to death penalty. All such cases have striking similarities as a headless torso of the killed persons was found in the early morning hours outside the Tihar Jail. He then would write letter to Police officers daring to nab him.
Similar Fact Evidence and Striking Similarity Test applied
The Court, observing the similarity in nature of crimes, applied the Striking Similarity Test expounding the following principles on it.
RTI replies cannot be referred to discard evidence on record
Confessionary letters addressed to Police not hit by Section 25 and 26 of Evidence Act
The accused had written confessionary letters to the police daring them to nab him, which were produced as evidence. The Court observed that letters although addressed to the police, are not hit by Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act and these letters were voluntarily written, even before the police knew the identity/name of the culprit and much before the appellant was arrested or detained. The embargo imposed by Section 25 of the Evidence Act cannot be invoked, as the said letters were not written by an accused person in the presence or in the custody of a police officer, which is a statutory prerequisite for invoking Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act. The letters in the present case must be also distinguished from a first information report made by the culprit to a police officer, whether it is a self-exculpatory version or self-incriminating confession
Life imprisonment without release on remission
The Court observed that this case falls in the category wherein the extreme sentence of death by capital punishment would not be justified and at the same time possibility of award of remission and release of ChandrakantJha on completion of sentence of 14 years or even thereafter, would be inadequate and parlous. Having observed thus, the Court awarded punishment of life imprisonment to the accused with a direction that he would not be released on remission for remainder of his natural life.
Read the Judgment here.