New Delhi, September 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday handed life imprisonment to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Prabhunath Singh in the double murder case of 1995, and also awarded a seven-year jail term for the offence of attempt to murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code.
With pronouncing its judgement in the case, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S. Oka and Vikram Nath also directed a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for both the families of the deceased persons and Rs 5 lakh each for the injured.
The compensation is to be paid by the Bihar government and the convict separately.
On August 18, a special bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul, Abhay S. Oka and Vikram Nath held the former Member of Parliament (MP) guilty in the case, reversing the acquittal decision rendered by the Patna High Court.
During the hearing on Friday, Justice Kaul said: “Life or death sentence, there are only two options.”
Senior Advocate R. Basant appearing for the respondent argued that in the case of Bachhan Singh it is stated that the graver option of sentence is chosen when the lesser option is unquestionably foreclosed.
"Do you seriously think we are considering the death penalty?" Justice Oka asked the Senior Advocate Basant.
Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi argued that with two acquittals, the presumption of innocence is enhanced and that the review is pending on the matter. However, the bench said that the review will be decided later on in chambers.
The court was apprised that Singh is now 70 years old.
"Rest is up to God, whatever he gives him,” Justice Kaul said.
"Never seen a case like this before,” Justice Vikram Nath remarked.
The apex court recently allowed former Bihar MP Prabhunath Singh to appear virtually through video conferencing for hearing on the quantum of sentence after it held him guilty in 1995 double murder case.
A bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul had exempted the RJD leader from physical appearance against the top court’s earlier direction asking Bihar’s Home Secretary and DGP (Director General of Police) to produce him on September 1 before the apex court, when order as to the quantum of sentence will be pronounced.
“Accused-respondent no. 2 (Prabhunath Singh) is thus convicted under Sections 302 and 307 IPC for the murders of Daroga Rai and Rajendra Rai and also for attempt to murder of injured Lalmuni Devi (mother of deceased Rajendra Rai),” it had said.
In its judgement, the apex court had said that there was sufficient evidence to show that Singh murdered Rajendra Rai and Daroga Rai near a polling booth in Bihar’s Chhapra in 1995.
The appeal before the top court was instituted by the brother of the deceased in 2012 against the order of the Patna High Court upholding acquittal by trial court on the ground of lack of evidence.
As per the FIR, Singh openly fired from his rifle on a group of people who did not vote for him while they were returning after casting their vote in the election in 1995.
Prabhunath Singh is currently serving life imprisonment in another murder case of Ashok Singh.