Around 11 am on January 21, as the three-judge bench at the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of 15 convicts, Arun Kumar, thought he had not heard the verdict correctly.
According to the order, the death sentences of his elder brother Sanjeev Kumar and his wife Sonia had been commuted, on the grounds of delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions.
The couple, who have been in custody for more than 12 years, will now spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
The verdict brought closure to the legal battle Arun and his family had been fighting since 2004, after the Hissar sessions court sentenced the couple to death for the murders of eight family members of Sonia’s maternal family in 2001.
“Ever since, we have been getting nightmares that the two would be hanged,” said 33-year-old Arun, a sales executive with a diagnostic lab in Delhi.
While exploring all possible options to save the couple, Arun realised that the wait for a response to the mercy petition could be endless. While the Haryana governor took eight months to decide on the plea, the President sat on it for almost six years. “Every activity of the government authorities related to death row convicts is shrouded in secrecy.