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Mattoo case: Singh's face turned pale and downcast
October 17, 2006 19:40 IST
Santosh Singh's demeanour went from calm composure to nervousness in the seven to eight minutes it took a bench of the Delhi hjigh court to convict him on Tuesday for the rape and murder of Pridarshini Mattoo nearly 11 years ago.
As Justices R S Sodhi and P K Bhasin pronounced their verdict, Singh's face turned pale and downcast even as an advocate friend tried to console him.
Earlier, when the clock struck 2 pm, the lean and dusky Singh, tried and acquitted by a lower court, walked unobtrusively into Court Hall No. 35 to hear the verdict.
Dressed casually in a white cotton shirt and grey trousers, Singh, a lawyer by profession, asked a fellow advocate for a seat in the second row as the hall was packed with journalists, advocates, police officials and some friends of Priyadarashini.
As time passed, a composed Singh appeared to turn pensive as he waited for the two judges, who trooped in at around 2.15 pm.
Justice Sodhi, speaking for the bench, asked Singh's counsel R K Naseem whether he preferred death or a life-term for his client.
The counsel replied, "Your lordship, life sentence."
The bench then said it would decide the quantum of punishment on October 30, when the court reopened after the Diwali vacation.
Government counsel Mukta Gupta quickly rose from her seat and urged the court to direct the CBI to take Singh into custody immediately.
The bench then asked CBI staff present in court to take Singh into custody.
However, about half a dozen advocate friends of Singh from the Tiz Hazari courts turned their ire on the media.
The advocates, who were trying to prevent photo-journalists from taking pictures of Singh being taken into a police van, started physically assaulting the scribes.
The camera phone of a journalist was damaged by the unruly advocates, who abused the media for creating what they called "hype" in the case.
Some journalists tried to stop the advocates, forcing policemen in plainclothes and senior members of the media to intervene and defuse the situation.
Ironically, an hour after the commotion ended and the media personnel were busy getting photostat copies of the court's judgment, some of Singh's advocate friends implored the journalists to spare them a copy, which the latter obliged despite the acrimony witnessed a little earlier.
Priyadarshini, a law student in Delhi University, was raped and murdered by Singh at her house at Vasant Kunj in south Delhi on January 23, 1996.
Singh was acquitted due to lack of evidence by an additional sessions judge in December 1999.