Serial Killer’s Death Penalty Commuted To Life Term


New Delhi: Serial killer Chandrakant Jha was today spared of the gallows by Delhi High Court which commuted death sentence to imprisonment for “remainder of his natural life” without remission, saying he must be “emphatically and adequately punished” for his “heinous” crime.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and R K Gauba upheld Jha’s conviction in three identical cases of murder and upheld life imprisonment in one case, while commuting the capital punishment to life term awarded to him by a trial court in two other cases in February 2013.

“In light of the aforesaid factum and balancing out of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, we feel that the present case would fall 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 Jha on completion of sentence of 14 years or even thereafter, would be inadequate and parlous.

“The heinous and outrageous crime, involving inhumane behaviour and torture, must be emphatically and adequately punished. This case falls in the third category, beyond application of remission,” the court said. “In light of the above, whilst not confirming the death sentence proposed by the trial court, we award punishment of life imprisonment with a direction that Jha would not be released on remission for remainder of his natural life. This direction would not affect the power under Articles 72 (power of President to grant pardon) and 161 (power of the governor of state to grant pardon, remission of punishment) of the Constitution. This we feel would be appropriate and the proportionate sentence in the present case,” the court added.

While commuting death to life term in two cases, the court said, “there was no eye witnesses” to these incidents.
In one of the three cases of murder, the trial court on February 4, 2013 had awarded life term till death to Jha for decapitating his victim and dumping the body near the Tihar Jail daring the police to nab him. Jha, a native of Madhepura in Bihar, was sentenced to life term till death in a case relating to killing of one Dilip, whose headless body was dumped near Tihar Jail in 2007.

On February 5, 2013, Jha was sentenced to death in the second case of identical crime by the same trial court, saying his offence fell under the “rarest of rare case” as the brutality committed by him showed he “cannot be reformed”. The court awarded death sentence to Jha for killing 19- year-old Upender and dumping his headless body also near Tihar jail in 2007.