Stepfather gets death penalty for killing actor Laila Khan, her five family members

Mumbai, May 24 (PTI) A court here on Friday sentenced Parvez Tak to death in the 2011 murder of his stepdaughter and actor Laila Khan, her mother and four siblings, stating that the act of the accused was “not only barbaric, but also inhuman of the highest degree”.

It said the offence has certainly shocked the collective conscience of the society and therefore falls under the “rarest of rare” category, the court ruled.

Additional sessions judge Sachin Pawar had on May 9 found Tak guilty of the murder and destruction of evidence, among other offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the quantum of his sentence was decided on Friday.

Laila Khan, her mother Shelina Patel and her four siblings were killed at their bungalow at Igatpuri in Nashik district of Maharashtra in February 2011.

Tak was living with Shelina Patel as a family member and as per the order it was not established if he was married to her.

The killings came to light a few months later when the Jammu and Kashmir police arrested Tak. The decomposed bodies of the victims were recovered from the bungalow later.

“All the six deceased persons are victims of savage attack by the accused. The murders are committed in an extremely grotesque and revolting manner. The five women victims were vulnerable and the accused took its disadvantage,” the court observed.

It stated that the execution of the act indicates that these were “cold-blooded murders”.

The accused committed the crime “cold-heartedly” and “meticulously planned screening of evidence”, which remained unnoticed for almost 17 months after the commission of the offence, the court noted.

The act of the accused making disclosures in police custody, after realising that he cannot escape from clutches of law can not be accepted as remorse or repentance, the order said.

The judge, in his 250-page judgment copy, stated the act of the accused without “justification or provocation” has led to the elimination of the entire family of the deceased Shelina Patel.

“The act of the accused is not only barbaric but also inhuman of the highest degree. The offence has certainly shocked the collective conscience of the society. Therefore, in my view the case falls in the category of rarest of rare case,” the court held.

The judge was of the view that considering the “magnitude and enormity of the crime”, its ghastly nature, the accused is liable to suffer the maximum punishment for the offence committed by him as sentencing life imprisonment would not be the adequate punishment.

“Thus, after going through the entire facts and circumstances of the case and after considering the legal principles on sentencing, I come to the conclusion that the accused deserves to be awarded the death penalty,” he added.

As per the case of prosecution, all the bodies were found buried and invariably, there are major fractures on the skulls of each of them. In some cases, skeletons, pieces of the skull were found separately.

It had claimed that the accused wanted to earn money by compelling daughters of Shelina to go for prostitution to Dubai and on their refusal to accede to his demand, he eliminated all the victims by committing the alleged offence.

The court, however, noted that the prosecution fails to produce any such corroborative piece of evidence.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show any connection of the accused with Dubai to link him with such a motive as claimed by the prosecution,” it said.

Further, the court held that circumstance in the form of motive is not clearly established in the evidence and it is a very weak circumstance against the accused.

Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam, who resigned from the post to contest the Lok Sabha election, had conducted the trial in the case and had examined 41 witnesses.

He said that though there was no direct evidence, there was a complete chain of circumstantial evidence to connect the accused with the case.

The court said that it is firmly established in the evidence of the prosecution that the victims’ bodies were found buried in the premises of the bungalow of the victims at Koturwadi in Igatpuri, and the place of concealment of dead bodies was discovered on the basis of a disclosure statement made by the accused.

It was of the opinion that these circumstances form a complete chain, which “unerringly points towards the accused to infer that in all human probability”, he must have murdered the victims and buried their bodies to conceal the offence.

“Therefore, I hold the accused guilty for the offence under section 302(murder) and 201( causing disappearance of evidence) of IPC,” the court said.

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