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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
‘We should hang Home Minister’
The HC is currently hearing the appeal against the death sentence awarded to Leena (r) and Deepti Deosthali(l) for the 2006 murder of Dr Deepak Mahajan
Miffed that police could not record ransom calls made in Dr Mahajan murder case due to faulty machinery, Bombay High Court says the government’s lax attitude is to blame for ill-equipped force
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the State Government for failing to equip the police well enough to investigate crimes.The Division Bench of Justice JN Patel and Mrudula Bhatkar was hearing the appeal against the death sentence awarded by the Pune sessions court to Leena Deosthali and her daughter Deepti, the two women accused in the Dr Deepak Mahajan murder case.
The judges were irked when the prosecution admitted that the transcripts of the ransom calls made to the deceased doctor’s family during his kidnapping were not available, as the police machinery tapping the phones was faulty and could not record the conversations.
Justice Patel noted that the police force is ill-equipped because of the lax attitude of the government. Citing the example of the unavailability of bulletproof jackets for officers during the Mumbai terror attacks, he remarked, “Because they (police) are not provided with the necessary equipment, we have to suffer events like 26/11.” He held the Home Department responsible for the flaws in police investigations and quipped, “We should hang the Minister for Home.”
Advocate Ashok Mundergi assured the court on behalf of the prosecution that satisfactory answers would be given over the lapses in police investigations pointed out by the court.
FAST TRACK INJUSTICE
The Division Bench was also especially peeved to find that the Pune sessions court had not examined key witnesses such as the police sketch artist who first prepared a sketch of the two accused. Arguing for the prosecution, advocate Ashok Mundergi told the court that lack of time in a fast track trial did not allow the court to wait for the sketch artist, who was unavailable at the time of summons. Justice Patel responded, “A fast track trial does not mean you deliver a judgment without examining witnesses just because it has to be fast track. It is against the principles of justice. In that case, there is no point in having fast track courts.”
THE CASE SO FAR
The Pune sessions court in 2007 found Leena and Deepti Deosthali guilty of the 2006 murder of Dr Deepak Mahajan, and awarded the mother-daughter duo the death sentence. The HC began hearing the appeal last August. Earlier this year, the case was sent back to the Pune sessions court for cross-examination of 25 of the 46 witnesses, as the accused did not have a lawyer in the sessions court. However, the Pune court upheld the sentence. The Deosthalis are currently lodged in the Byculla women’s jail and have refused a lawyer for the HC hearings as well. However, the court has appointed Rohini Salian as the amicus curiae.
(Source: MUMBAI MIRROR BUREAU
19th August 2009)