Aman Kachroo case: Guilty given 4 years in jail; defence to appeal against verdict
In a setback to the prosecution, the Dharamsala Additional District and Sessions Judge Purinder Vaidya converted the murder charges framed under section 302 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the four accused medical students, Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma to culpable homicide in Aman ragging-to-death case not tantamount to murder under section 304 (II) here on Thursday amidst packed courtroom.
Announcing four years of imprisonment for the accused, the court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on them. In the default of fine, the four convicts would have to undergo further imprisonment of three months. They were also pronounced guilty under 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. The judgment was pronounced around 3.10 pm. Having been already in judicial custody for 21 months, the accused would need to undergo only 2 years and 3 months of imprisonment.
The four convicts who were also present in the court were neatly dressed and did not appear to have any remorse. The defence lawyer, Abhimanyu Chopra, said that they would appeal against the verdict of four years imprisonment in the state high court.
Aman Kachroo who was a first-year MBBS student at Tanda medical college student had been beaten brutally to death by his four seniors during ragging in the hostel at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Tanda Medical College campus, Kangra on March 8 last year. The incident had evoked national outrage against the menace of ragging. Aman Kachroo who did plus two from DPS International in Saket ( New Delhi) had made repeated complaints to his parents regarding ragging committed mostly by his seniors in inebriated state. He had also reported the matter to college authorities several times.
The then principal of the college, Suresh Sankhayan was held responsible for the ragging incident following magisterial probe order by the state government. Sankhayan was compulsory retired on October 30 (2010) by the state government for his inefficient handling of the ragging case.
The statement of 38 witnesses included police personnel and doctors – Harjeet Pal Singh (ENT department) and D P Swami, assistant professor of forensic medicine department, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Tanda Medical College Hospital by the court. Aman Kachroo’s father, Rajendra Kachroo had also deposed before the court to record his statement on August 28. He had launched a country-wide movement against ragging after the death of his son.
The state government conducted a magisterial inquiry which eventually confirmed that Aman had died due to ragging. It also passed a legislation against ragging, ‘The Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Ragging) Act, 2009’ in August last year. The act states that students involved in ragging would not only be expelled and be ineligible for admission to any other institution for three years, but may also be jailed and fined Rs 50,000.
The special prosecutor of the state government, Jiwan Lal Sharma said that he would go through the judgment and then decide about the next course of action.