Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar also observed in his 13-page order on sentence that awarding death penalty to 35-year-old Rana would be “completely disproportionate” to the crime committed by him.
“The fact however remains that the act of convict Sher Singh Rana cannot be termed as an attack on a democratic institution of the country viz the Parliament,” the court, which also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on Rana, said.
“I am thus of the considered opinion that awarding of death penalty (to Rana) would be completely disproportionate to the crime committed in the present case,” the judge said.
Pronouncing the order in a jampacked courtroom, the judge noted that Rana has already spent about 11 years in jail during the “long protracted criminal trial” in the case which lasted for more than 13 years.
It observed that facts of the case does not fall into the category of rarest of rare warranting death penalty as motive behind the murder could not be established by the police.
“However, in my considered opinion the facts of the present case does not fall into any of the aforesaid categories even if the matter is considered from a “Society Centric” approach.
“Moreover even the “Crime” test does not stand fully settled in favour of the prosecution or against the accused. The motive factor or the previous criminal record factor does not stand proved against the accused,” it said.
Soon after the pronouncement of life sentence, the family members of Phoolan as well as Rana said they would challenge the judgement before a higher court.
“My brother Sher Singh Rana is innocent. Phoolan killed so many innocent people. She surrendered but later she became a Member of Parliament. Even if Rana has murdered Phoolan, he has done no wrong as she was a ‘dacoit’,” Rana’s sister, Shikha Singh Rana, told reporters.
Rana’s younger brother Vijay Singh Rana, who was also an accused in the case and was acquitted by the court due to lack of evidence, told the scribes that he cannot comment on the verdict but they will file an appeal against it soon.
Vijay, who was permitted by the court to meet his brother in the lock up inside the court premises, also said, “Rana is very much aggrieved that he was the only one held guilty in the case. But, at the same time, he is relieved that he was not awarded death penalty by the court.”
However, Phoolan’s elder sister Rookmini Devi, said they will approach higher courts seeking death penalty for Rana.
“I have faith in our judicial system and I believe that the higher courts will award death penalty to Rana. We will approach the higher courts and seek death penalty not just for him but for all the co-accused (who were acquitted) in the case,” she said.
The verdict was delivered amid tight security inside and outside the Patiala House Court premises with policemen making a human chain while escorting Rana to the courtroom from the lockup.
The kin and supporters of Rana and Phoolan too exchanged heated words outside the courtroom as well as the court premises.