Law

Convict in Preeti Rathi Case Gets Death Sentence, First Such Penalty for Acid Attacks

File photo of Preeti Rathi. Credit: PTI

File photo of Preeti Rathi. Credit: PTI

Mumbai: A special women’s court on Wednesday sentenced a man to death for causing the death of Preeti Rathi by throwing acid on her on May 2, 2013. Ankur Panwar was convicted on charges of throwing acid with the intention of causing harm (section 326 B of the Indian Penal Code) and committing murder (section 302 of the IPC) for his actions at Bandra station in Mumbai three years ago.

Rathi’s parents, Amar Singh and Roshni Rathi, have been awarded Rs 2 lakh by the Victim Compensation Committee headed by Sayaji Korhale, member of the District Legal Services Authority, the Indian Express reported.

The court heard testimonies from 37 witnesses, including five eye witnesses and 11 doctors, over the course of the trial, which lasted one-and-a-half years, before arriving at its decision.

Special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam argued that Panwar deserved the death penalty because his actions had a larger impact on society and that his tendency to commit such an act put other girls at risk too. Hindustan Times reported that the prosecution described Parwan’s actions as “gruesome, merciless and pre-planned.”

Nikam told the court, “This is a fit case for death penalty where the manner in which the offence was committed and the exceptional cruel attitude of the accused are aggravating circumstances,” according to the Indian Express.

Panwar, who is currently being held at the Arthur Road Jail, lived near Rathi’s neighbourhood in Narela, Delhi. Apparently, Rathi rejected Panwar’s marriage proposal so he followed her to Mumbai where she was set to start a new job as a nurse at the INHS Asvini Hospital. Panwar threw acid on her at the station just as she arrived in Mumbai.

Panwar’s defence lawyer Apeksha Vora argued that Rathi died from medical negligence. Additionally, she claimed that Panwar had been falsely implicated since he was arrested seven months after the incident occurred.

Panwar’s family has stated that they plan to appeal the decision at the high court and have also demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. On Tuesday she told the Indian Express, “We have been implicated just because we were poor. I want a CBI inquiry into the case.”