The Bombay high court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded to the murderer of Preethi Rathi, who had been attacked with acid in 2013, to life imprisonment.
The division bench of Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice Prakash D Naik, while reading out the judgement in their chamber, upheld the conviction of 25-yr-old Ankur Narayanlal. The bench, while reading out the operative part of the judgement, said, “The conviction under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 326 (b) (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid) is upheld. The death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.”
A special women’s court had in 2016 sentenced Panwar to death. This was the first such case where an accused convicted for acid attack was given death penalty. Panwar had thrown sulphuric acid at 23-year-old Rathi at the Bandra railway station on May 2, 2013. She had come to join Naval hospital Ashwini in Mumbai and had been selected to work in a nursing position as a Lieutenant.
Rathi had sustained grievious injuries and had lost her vision. She spent a month in hospital and died of multiple organ failure. Panwar was arrested from his home in Delhi’s Narela in January 2014 by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch.
After being handed over a death sentence, while the petition came to Bombay high court for confirmation of the death sentence, Panwar had filed an appeal against the sentence. While arguing against the death sentence, his lawyers had argued that Panwar had no intention of murdering Rathi but only wanted to injure her. According to investigators, Panwar had proposed to Rathi but her refusal had angered him.