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Life sentence for Staines’ killers, S.C.uoholds life term for Dara Singh and accomplice
Published on 22 Jan. 2011 12:34 AM IST
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Exactly 12 years after Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death by a mob of Hindu fanatics in Orissa, the Supreme Court Friday upheld life terms for Dara Singh, the man who led the mob, and his accomplice Mahender Hambram. The court said it did not fall in the “rarest of rare case” category to warrant death sentence.
While confirming the life sentences, the apex court bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan in their judgment said: “Whether a case falls within the rarest of rare case or not, has to be examined with reference to the facts and circumstances of each case and the court has to take note of the aggravating as well as mitigating circumstances and conclude whether there was something uncommon about the crime which renders the sentence of imprisonment for life inadequate and calls for death sentence.”
Speaking for the bench, Justice Sathasivam said: “There is no material to prove conspiracy charge against any of the accused.”
“In the case on hand, though Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur, the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity.”
“It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of ‘use of force’, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other”, the judgment said referring to Mahatma Gandhi.
Staines and his two sons, Philip (10) and Timothy (6), were burnt to death by a mob of Hindu activists Jan 22, 1999 while they were sleeping in their station wagon at Manoharpur village in Orissa’s Keonjhar district. Dara Singh was awarded death sentence by a special CBI court in September 2003 while 12 of his accomplices were awarded life imprisonment.
In May 2005, the Orissa High Court commuted Dara Singh’s death sentence to life imprisonment. Hambram was also sentenced to life while 11 others were acquitted.

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