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Written by: Upasana Dash

Edited by: Anubhav Yadav

Since Independence, the first woman, Shabnam Ali could be hanged as she has been convicted of killing seven members of her family in 2008 along with her boyfriend Saleem. Her 12-year-old son appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind to “forgive” his mother. Afterwards, Shabnam filed a mercy petition to Uttar Pradesh Governor, Anandi Ben Patel, and President of India. The said plea was rejected by both of them.

In 2008, Shabnam Ali, a Saifi Muslim from Bawankhadi, a village in Hasanpur tehsil of Amroha District, UP along with her boyfriend Saleem, a class 6th dropout had murdered seven members of her family, father Shakat Ali (55), mother Hashmi (50), elder brother Anees (35), Anees’s wife Anjum (25), young brother Rasheed (22), cousin Rabia (14), and Arsh, Anees’s 10-month-old son.

Shabnam had done a double M.A in English and Geography, worked as a Shiksha Mitra. Her family was against her relationship with Saleem. According to the Prosecution, on April 14, 2008, Shabnam pacified all her family members, later on with the help of Saleem, chopped them all to death with an axe, and choked her nephew. During the time of arrest, 20-year-old Shabnam was 7 weeks pregnant. In December 2008 she gave birth to her son (Taj) in prison.

Considering the fact and aggravating factors, it was adequate to view this case as “rarest of rare case”, commendable capital punishment. The Allahabad High Court contradicted to contemplate Shabnam’s fear of family and the son who was born in the Amroha jail would become forsaken if his parents were beheaded. While vindicating the death sentence the Supreme Court solicited to “maintain a link between contemporary communities values and penal system”. To the Court, the fact that Shabnam was a daughter who had committed parricide was an abomination of scale so large that no mitigating circumstance could negate it.

In 2010, an Amroha Sessions Court passed judgment to them to death which was validated by the Allahabad High Court in 2013 and the Supreme Court in May 2015 within 10 days however delayed the death warrant. In September 2015, the Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik disapproved Shabnam’s plea for mercy which she had attempted on the ground of her reasonableness towards her son, Mohammad Taj. In August 2016, then President Pranab Mukherjee declined her mercy petition. In January 2020, the Supreme Court bench governed by CJI SA Bobde sustained the death sentence.

The chance of rectification was completely rejected by the High Court examining the extreme barbarity and demonic character of the offence. The Supreme Court on the other hand did not concern with seizing the question of ratification at all. Shabnam’s clemency petition came grooming at the Mathura jail, to execute her only jail in India has the arrangements for hanging a woman convict. Pawan Kumar, the hangman of the Nirbhaya case, has recently been estimated as saying by media release that he had been in Mathura jail to see if the accomplishment room was in working order.


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