Friday, February 6, 2015

Bombay HC upholds conviction of Pune rogue driver

July 24, 2014 - 7:40:45 am

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court yesterday upheld the conviction of Santosh Mane, a state transport corporation driver who had mowed down nine pedestrians and injured 37 others in Pune in 2012. A division bench comprising Justice VM Kanade and Justice PD Kode also rejected Mane’s plea that he was ‘insane’ at the time of the incident. The court fixed August 5 for awarding the quantum of sentence to Mane, who was convicted by a lower court in Pune last year. Pune Sessions Court Additional Sessions Judge V.K. Shewale had April 8, 2013 pronounced the death sentence for Mane, terming it as “a rarest of rare” crimes.

Mane (36), was convicted under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to murder, attempt to murder, theft and damage to public property. However, when the sentence came up for confirmation by the Bombay High Court, Mane challenged the conviction and claimed he was of unsound mind at the time of the incident. Both matters -- the confirmation of the death sentence and his challenge to the conviction -- were heard simultaneously by the court. Rejecting his plea for psychiatric examination, the Bombay High Court in September 2013 had set aside the death sentence awarded to Mane on grounds that the lower court had not heard him on the point of the sentence.

It referred the matter back to the Pune Sessions Court, directing it to hear Mane again on the issue of the death sentence. The Pune court heard him out, and again awarded the death penalty, which he challenged in the high court. On January 25, 2012, Mane had hijacked a Satara-bound bus of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) from the Swargate depot and sped it through the crowded roads of Pune, catching morning peak hour commuters unawares.

In his wild 15-km ride, lasting 45 minutes, he knocked down scores of people and damaged more than two dozen public and private vehicles before he was nabbed. Meanwhile in Siliguri, a fresh autopsy of a West Bengal school teacher who died in judicial custody in Uttar Pradesh was conducted Wednesday, as demonstrators carrying his body blocked the national highway and fought pitched battles with police in Darjeeling district.

Trouble broke out for the second day yesterday night, as a mob put up road blocks on national highway 34 at Bihar More in Bagdogra. The fresh disturbances started after police handed over the body of Ganesh Chowdhury to his family members after the second autopsy. Claiming Chowdhury was killed in judicial custody in Uttar Pradesh, the demonstrators demanded a proper investigation and the opening of a murder case. They also demanded “exemplary punishment” to those responsible for his death. The demonstrators pelted stones and fought pitched battle with police when the authorities tried to remove the road blockades.

“We were attacked by the mob. So, we were forced to baton-charge the demonstrators,” said Siliguri Deputy Commissioner of Police OG Pal. Earlier, a few hundred people demonstrated with Chowdhury’s body outside the Bagdogra police station, demanding a repeat post-mortem examination. Uttar Pradesh Police had earlier conducted a post-mortem examination, which was “not to the satisfaction” of his family members. “Following an appeal from Chowdhury’s family, the Darjeeling district magistrate ordered a second post-mortem examination which was done during the day (Wednesday) at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH),” Siliguri sub-divisional officer Deepap Priya P said.

Chowdhury of Bagdogra was employed as a teacher in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. He died in judicial custody in Azamgarh after his arrest in a kidnapping case. His family members claimed he was in a relationship with the school owner’s daughter. As the girl’s father was against the marriage, the couple eloped. Following a police complaint, the teacher’s father and brother were arrested. When Chowdhury came to know of this, he surrendered to police and was sent to judicial custody, said his brother-in-law Lal Babu Kamath. Uttar Pradesh Police claimed he fell ill in custody and died in a hospital Monday.

NBMCH forensic department head Rajiv Prasad said the vicera report will be available after a month. In Ghaziabad police yesterday registered a criminal case against two unidentified people over the mysterious death of 31-year-old Rajya Sabha TV producer Milita Dutta Mandal, who died at her residence in Vaishali. “We have registered a case. The two people have not been identified as the CCTV camera was not working at the time when the crime took place. But the apartment’s security guard told us that two people had come by a car at the time of the incident,” a police official said.

Asked about the post-mortem report, Ghaziabad police said their Delhi counterparts were looking after that. IANS
Source: [last accessed 09 April 2015]

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