Tuesday, 9 September 2014

HC upholds death for Pune rogue driver

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence of state transport bus driver Santosh Mane (40), who went on a rampage plowing into pedestrians and motorists over two-and-a-half years ago. At the end of the 15km and 45-minute killing spree, nine people were dead, 37 injured and property worth Rs 5 crore was damaged.

"This is an exceptional and rarest of rare cases where the crime is so cruel, diabolical and revolting so as to shock the collective conscience of society," said a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode. The HC rejected Mane's plea that he was insane and said there was no chance that he could be reformed.

"The magnitude of his crime cannot be brushed aside on the ground of his false plea of insanity, which he raised after the gruesome and gory incident was over," the court observed.

A plea for leniency was rejected by the HC, which said criminal acts could not be condoned on the premise that when society inflicts insults on a person, it gives him the right to go on a revenge spree. "If such acts are condoned by commutation of death penalty, it definitely would send wrong signals to society that individuals can take law into their hands and get away with it on some misplaced and misconceived notions of sympathy," the judges.

The HC also said it was not a case of a road accident where the driver lost control of his vehicle. "After hijacking the bus, he killed innocent people and damaged public property, undaunted by attempts to dissuade him from his killing spree of hapless victims," the judges said.

The HC stayed its verdict for eight weeks to allow Mane to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The police claimed that Mane was peeved for being put on night duty despite his request for day duty. After his request was denied, he walked out of his superior's office, hijacked a state transport bus from the Swargate depot and drove recklessly within the depot and then on the busy streets of Pune, knocking down pedestrians and ramming into autorickshaws, cars and buses on January 25, 2012. The ride was brought to an end by the police. A trial court had sentenced Mane to death, which he challenged before the HC.

Public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde and additional public prosecutor Madhavi Mhatre said there was no evidence that Mane was insane at the time of the incident, despite the defence claiming that he had sought medical help for mental problems.

The prosecution said Mane had a motive for the crime and his actions before, during and after the incident showed that he was in his senses.

They also pointed to numerous accidents he was involved in before the incident.

Advocate Jaydeep Mane, counsel for the accused, said they would challenge the verdict before the Supreme Court. Mane joins nearly 472 persons on death row lodged in jails across India.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=upheld,Rampage,High Court,Driver,death sentence

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