Murdering seven family members, filed second mercy petition to the death row convict Shabnam.

Murdering seven family members, filed second mercy petition to the death row convict Shabnam.

Murdering seven family members, filed second mercy petition to the death row convict Shabnam.

Even as reports on the potential execution of death row convict Shabnam stream in, she has filed her second mercy petition with Governor of Uttar Pradesh Anandiben Patel and President of India Ramnath Kovind.

Shabnam’s lawyer, Advocate Shreya Rastogi, maintains that there can be no question of issuance of death warrants, since she is yet to avail all her legal remedies.

The development takes place at a time when Mathura Jail – the only jail in the country where women can be hanged to death – is reportedly preparing to execute Shabnam in what will be the first hanging of a female convict in 70 years.

“Ridiculous reporting on making it seem that Shabnam Ali is going to be executed and that she will be the first woman to be executed. The slightest due diligence would have shown that she (has) important constitutional remedies remaining and that a death warrant cannot be issued,” Anup Surendranath, Executive Director, Project 39A at National Law Universtity, Delhi tweeted on the development.

Shabnam, who is currently lodged at District Jail, Mathura, was found guilty of murdering seven of her family members including a 10-month-old infant in 2008 after her lover Saleem was not accepted by her family.

As per the prosecution case, after the murders took place, Shabnam was found crying “Bachao bachao maare maare” (help, help, they’ve been killed), lying on the terrace. When her neighbour reached the house, it was found locked. He then took the other entrance to reach the roof, where he found an unconscious Shabnam.

Soon thereafter, all seven members of the house were discovered in a pool of blood.

Shabnam’s father, mother, two brothers, sister-in-law, and a 14-year-old niece were hacked on the head, face and trunk regions with an axe in their sedated sleep. The infant was throttled to death.

A total of 28 witnesses corroborated the chain of events before the trial court. Rais Ahmed, who was one of the prime witness, informed the court that he saw Saleem asking a medical store for intoxicating/sleeping tablets, but the doctor refused to prescribe the medicine. Ahmed said that a fruit seller, Pappu got him the sedatives from Moradabad.

As per the case of the prosecution, the family members were murdered in their sleep by Saleem after Shabnam administered diazepam tablets (sedatives) to the entire family.

Shabnam and her lover Saleem were convicted and sentenced to death by a Sessions Court in Amroha back in July 2010.

Their death sentences were confirmed by the Allahabad High Court on April 26, 2013. The High Court refused to consider as a mitigating factor the fact that while in jail, Shabnam had given birth to a child who would be orphaned if his parents are executed.

The Supreme Court of India dismissed their criminal appeals filed in May 2015.

Subsequently, a death warrant for the executions of Shabnam and Saleem was issued by the Sessions Court on May 21, 2015. On May 27, the Supreme Court (in Shabnam v. Union of India) quashed the death warrants on the ground that the duo were yet to avail of their constitutional remedies.

While doing so, the Court laid down the law on issuance of death warrants in India. The judgment rendered by Justices AK Sikri and UU Lalit reads,

“…the convicts have not exhausted their judicial and administrative remedies, which are still open to them even if their appeals in the highest Court have failed affirming the imposition of death penalty. Those appeals were filed via the route of Article 136 of the Constitution. However, law gives such persons another chance, namely, to seek review of the orders so passed, by means of filing of review petition…”

Thereafter, a mercy petition was filed by Shabnam on June 9, 2015 in Moradabad District Jail, which was rejected by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. The President of India then rejected her mercy plea on August 7, 2016.

On January 23 last year, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde dismissed the review petition filed by Saleem and Shabnam. The Court found no reason to overturn the death sentence, noting in its order,

“Notably, Shabnam is well educated and was employed as a Shikshamitra (Teacher) in a school. Yet she (with Saleem) had committed the patricide exterminating seven lives including a 10 month-old baby. Saleem had meticulously executed the killing after Shabnam had administered sleeping pills in tea. Saleem had slayed six of them.

Subsequently, she had feigned unconsciousness. The devilry was with the desire to see that no legal heir except Shabnam remains alive. They wanted to grab the property of Shabnam’s parents who were against their marriage.”

Shabnam’s lawyer, Advocate Shreya Rastogi, maintains that there can be no question of issuance of death warrants, since she is yet to avail all her legal remedies.

“Shabnam has very important constitutional remedies that remain to be exercised. These include the right to challenge the rejection of her mercy petition before the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court on various grounds and also the right to file a curative petition in the Supreme Court against the decision on the review petition,” reads a statement by the lawyer.

Recently, it was reported that Taj (Shabnam’s son) appealed to President Kovind to commute the death sentence of his mother. Speaking to ANI, he said,

“I love my mother. I am making an appeal to the President that her death sentence is commuted. It is up to the President to forgive her. But I have faith,” he reportedly said.

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