Santosh kumar convicted in priyadarshini matto case?
October 18, 2006 1:18am CST
It’s taken 10 long years to get justice for Priyadarshini Mattoo. But it has come finally. On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court convicted the son of a senior police officer, Santosh Kumar Singh, for raping and brutally killing 23-year-old law student Priyadarshini. The court will determine the punishment for Santosh on October 30. Will it be death penalty — as CBI has asked for — or will it be life sentence? Whatever it is, the conviction of Priyadarshini’s well-connected killer is bound to ignite hope in two other cases — the Jessica Lall and Nitish Katara murders — where the influential accused are still thumbing their noses at justice. Tuesday had been marked as the D-day for the Mattoo case. As reported by TOI, the case was listed for judgment late Monday night. On Tuesday, the court of Justices R S Sodhi and P K Bhasin was teeming with people — the accused and his family members, relatives and friends of Priyadarshini, mediapersons, and a number of civil society activists who had tirelessly campaigned for justice for Priyadarshini. The High Court overturned the trial court verdict of seven years ago,and Justices Sodhi and Bhasin patted CBI, the same agency that lost its case in the lower court, for proving Santosh Singh’s guilt ‘‘beyond any doubt by unimpeachable evidence,’’ including DNA fingerprinting. With that, the court must have restored some public confidence in the Indian judicial system. In 1999, trial judge G P Thareja had shocked the country when he acquitted Santosh while commenting: “Though I know he is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him, giving him the benefit of the doubt.’’ Santosh had become a lawyer at the Tees Hazari courts in the meantime and had also got married. The High Court too shuddered at Thareja’s verdict. It said: ‘‘By acquitting the respondent despite being convinced that there was no doubt in the prosecution case, the trial court has mauled justice, its decision has shocked the judicial conscience of this court.’’ Priyadarshini Mattoo’s is among the three cases — Jessica Lall’s and Nitish Katara’s being the other two — that have triggered popular indignation over the miscarriage of justice at the instance of high-profile and politicallyconnected accused. FLASHBACK Jan 23, 1996: 23-year-old law student Priyadarshini Mattoo raped and murdered in her Vasant Kunj home. The suspect is her senior, Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a senior IPS officer, who had been allegedly stalking the girl for over a year August 11, 1997: Trial begins Dec 3, 1999: Trial court sets Santosh free giving him benefit of doubt Sept 5, 2006: Delhi HC begins hearing CBI apeal Oct 17, 2006: High Court convicts Santosh Singh for rape and murder THE CLINCHER DNA test proved rape. The broken visor of the helmet of Santosh and fracture in his right hand besides the 19 injuries on Mattoo’s body. Several complaints by Mattoo to police established motive and eyewitness accounts proved Santosh was seen outside Mattoo’s house minutes before the murder