A bench, comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, said: “The prosecution case, in totality with motive of the crime that he was living in a relationship with the complainant Anju who had two children from the previous marriage, and had taken away the life of two minor innocent children at the very threshold of their life and murdered in a brutal manner by administering celphos to them, has been established.”
The bench noted that it is true that the punishment of remainder of natural life could not have been imposed by the trial court judge, but after looking into the case, it is appropriate to confirm the sentence of imprisonment for life to mean the remainder of natural life while upholding the conviction under Section 302 of the IPC.
Gauri Shankar, who was found guilty of committing the murder of two children aged 4 and 2, had filed an appeal in the top court. He was convicted by the trial court on July 1, 2013, and the sentence confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on December 13, 2018.
Shankar initially pleaded guilty and did not claim trial. He admitted that he administered poison to the children as a result of which the children died within 15-20 minutes. However, at a later stage, he moved an application stating that he had no connection with the crime and that he had been misled by government counsel to make a wrong statement admitting his guilt.
The top court noted that the trial court sentenced the accused with imprisonment for life for the remainder of natural life, which was not in the domain of the trial court, and this could have been exercised either by the High Court or the apex court.
According to the prosecution, complainant Anju was married to Ajay Kumar and they had two children. Kumar was an alcoholic and died.
Shankar, who was living in Anju’s neighbourhood, brought her along with her two children to Punjab where the incident took place. He used to dislike Anju’s children and had threatened to kill them.
On March 18, 2013, Anju returned home from temple and saw her children lying on the cot struggling for life. She rushed them to the hospital where they were declared brought dead.