Staines murder case: Supreme court seeks Odisha’s response on Dara Singh’s plea for premature release

The Uncut

New Delhi. The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Odisha government on a petition seeking premature release of Ravindra Pal alias Dara Singh, who is serving life sentence for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two minor sons in Keonjhar district in 1999. A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and SVN Bhatti issued notice to the Odisha government and asked it to respond within six weeks.

A mob led by Singh attacked Staines and his two sons – 11-year-old Philip and eight-year-old Timothy – while they were sleeping in their parked car at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district on the night of January 22–23, 1999, and then set the vehicle on fire.
Dara Singh, the prime accused in the triple murder case, was convicted and awarded death sentence by the CBI court in 2003. The Orissa High Court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment in 2005 and the Supreme Court upheld it in 2011.

Singh, in his petition filed through Vishnu Shankar Jain, said that he has been in jail for 24 years and he ‘regrets’ his act which he committed in the heat of youth. In the petition, he has said that he is currently pleading for mercy from this court, so that he can give something to the society through his service-oriented works.

He urged the court to direct the state government to consider his three cases in which he has been convicted under the guidelines issued in 2022 on premature release of convicts sentenced to life imprisonment. In the petition, he has said that he is 61 years old and has been in jail for more than 24 years without any parole. He said that he was not released on parole even when his mother died.

Dara Singh’s accomplice Mahendra Hembram is also serving life imprisonment in this case, while 11 other accused were acquitted by the High Court due to lack of evidence. Staines and his wife Gladys worked with the Mayurbhanj Evangelical Missionary Organization and took care of leprosy patients. Gladys Staines had said that she has forgiven the killers of her husband and sons and she has no bitterness towards them. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2005.

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