There are some crimes out there that are so abhorrent, so dreadful, and that arouse such indignation, that they are difficult to describe. These terrible crimes chill us to our core and make us doubt not just the society we live in, but our very meaning as human beings.
It is when we are faced with such crimes that we look to our governments for guidance. We want those who commit such heinous acts punished, put away forever to keep the rest of us safe. But what happens when life in prison doesn’t feel like enough? What are the limits of justice in those cases?
After hours in court and subsequent hours of deliberation, the justice had finally reached a decision. He described the murder as brutal, grotesque, dastardly and diabolical. The man had done the unspeakable, he’d killed two of his own family members in cold blood, for which the punishment was going to be, as the justice put it, “exemplary.”
Sovaran Singh had been convicted of the double murder of his wife Mamta and his youngest daughter Sapna. His eldest daughter, the only one he had left alive, was the prime witness in the case against him. She had witnessed the whole gory display and though she had survived, her life would never be the same.
One Drunken Night
Singh’s night of horrors started innocently enough. He’d had a drink, then two, then a few more. Before he knew it, he was drunk – far too drunk to function. When he asked his wife for money to buy more liquor, she refused. What followed was a gruesome chain of events that boggles the mind and darkens the soul.
12-year-old Sapna came in to ask her father something and a moment later, he had flown into a rage. Singh beat his daughter badly, then dragged her outside into their yard. When he brought her back, she was unconscious. He then proceeded to slam her down onto the brick floor of their patio and kick her. The girl stirred and looked up at the cold, merciless eyes of her father.
Sapna began weeping uncontrollably, but the act only served to infuriate him even further. By now, the girl was bleeding from her head, eyes, ears, and nose, but the pitiless Singh wasn’t done. He put his feet upon his daughter’s frail neck and pressed down until she breathed her last. He had killed his own daughter and he was far from done.
Calling his Wife
Certain she was dead, Singh carried Sapna’s body to the courtyard and placed it down on a cot he had placed there. Still drunk, he managed to climb up on their low roof, then called out for his wife Mamta to come check on Sapna on the pretext that she was sick with a fever and needed medicine. The ruse worked. Mamta came running.
Just as Mamta reached the gate to the house, she saw Singh shouting at her. He had blood upon him and was clearly still drunk. Before she could do anything or mount any kind of defense, Singh reached down and grabbed hold of a large rock. He swung at her, knocking into her chest and sending her tumbling to the ground.
Run For Your Life
He then proceeded to beat her with a combination of rock and stick of bamboo. Mamta managed to get to her feet and tried to run, but it was too late. Singh grabbed her leg and dragged her back to him. The beating continued and before long, Mamta had gone the same way as her daughter.
Singh’s eldest daughter, who had witnessed the whole ordeal, ran for help. In the meantime, Singh came to his senses and realizing what he had done, attempted to hide the bodies. He hid them nearby, but not well, and ran away from the home as fast as he could. He was caught soon after, fleeing from the area.
When his day in court finally came, the only defense Singh could mount was that the booze made him do it. He added that his wife’s refusal to accede to his demand for more money was what finally broke him. But was this a case of alcohol addiction taken to extremes or something far more sinister?
Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Om Prakash, who presided over the case, considered the alcohol motive offered by the defense. Yet both agreed that voluntary drunkenness is not an excuse for an offense of this magnitude. As far as they were concerned, Singh remembered enough of that evening’s events to be held responsible.
Drunk or no, Singh knew exactly what he was doing when he killed his family. Even if some momentary violent passions had ignited within him, he still knew what he was doing. That, plus the magnitude of his crime, was more than enough for them to consider only the harshest of penalties as punishment.
Even in court, Singh had not shown any remorse or repentance for what he’d done. He tried to hide the bodies, he ran from the scene. At no point did Singh take responsibility for the brutal death of his beloved wife and child. That in-and-of-itself was what drove them to seek the death penalty in the first place.
The death penalty, otherwise known as capital punishment or execution, has been in place since the very beginning of human history. It was used often during the Roman Empire and came back into fashion during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Though hardly the barbaric practice it used to be, it is still a government-sanctioned means of doling out maximum punishment.
All Over the World
Most executions are carried out as a result of capital crimes or offenses, such as murder, treason (a popular one during the Renaissance), espionage, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Even today, there are an astonishing 56 countries that retain capital punishment as a penalty, including the United States.
Nevertheless, it is still a subject of controversy. By and Large, those countries who still practice capital punishment do not do so lightly. It is precisely because of this that the justices presiding over Singh’s case were so remiss to even consider it. They had to consider much about the nature of the crime in order to come to a well-informed decision.
In the end, it was Singh’s outright depravity that forced them to the decision of the death penalty. When the justices heard that Singh had apparently chosen to mutilate his wife and daughter’s genitals after the murders had been committed, they knew that life imprisonment would neither serve the justice to the deceased nor be an appropriate punishment.
Singh was declared guilty and sentenced to death. While many still believe this to be an extreme measure, it is hardly the first time that such a thing has happened in that part of the world. Beed-based tailor Sunil Gaikwad was similarly punished recently for much the same type of crime: murdering his family.
Like Singh, Gaikwad killed his wife and two sons while also brutally stabbing his daughter as well. The girl survived, thankfully, and lived to testify against her father at the trial. She explained how he had taken her into his lap and tried to smother her with a pillow as he attempted to stab her to death. Gaikwad also no remorse for committing the heinous act.
Such Brutal Crimes
When asked why they chose the death penalty, the justices in both cases cited that these remorseless, senseless crimes affect people in a very jarring way. They shake people, they make people feel unsafe. Executions are final. Once they’re over, the killer will never be able to kill again. Whether or not this represents justice being served … perhaps we’ll never truly know.