The Indore bench of the MP high court on Wednesday upheld the death penalties of three staffers of a private bus involved the in the Sendhwa bus-burning incident in August 2011, in which 15 passengers were charred to death and more than 20 sustained severe injuries.
The bus owner was acquitted of all charges.
In September 2013, two years after the incident, a local court in Barwani condemned the bus driver Tarun Sharma, conductor Dilip Soni and cleaner Rajkumar Singh Kushwaha to death and awarded a life term to bus owner Naresh Kumar and imposed a penalty of Rs 62 lakh on him to be paid as compensation to the victims.
Thereafter, the case was placed before the high court for approval. Since November 2014, the case was heard thrice by three different division benches of the high court, but final orders were not passed.
The case was finally heard by division bench comprising Justice PK Jaiswal and Justice JK Jain on October 5, 2015.
Upholding the lower court’s order, the division bench of the high court approved the death penalty on the trio for burning the bus carrying passengers. The incident was triggered by a petty dispute between the staffers of two private bus operators.
The court acquitted the bus owner Naresh Kumar, who was awarded a lifer by the lower court which had held him guilty of abetting the crime and conspiracy.
“In the light of the judgment, Naresh Kumar was cleared of all charges and penalty slapped by lower court also stands cancelled,” said deputy advocate general Deepak Rawal. The victims of the tragedy can challenge the order for denying compensation, he said.
Earlier, the lower court had ordered the penalty sum be compensated to the family members of the victims. The court ruled that the family of the deceased be paid Rs 3 lakh, while that of injured should be given Rs 50,000 each.