The sessions court on Friday convicted 21 accused in connection with the Lakhan Bhaiyya fake encounter case for various charges including abduction, wrongful confinement, murder, aiding and abetting the crime, along with the charge of criminal conspiracy.
The court acquitted former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma of all charges.
Relying heavily on the observations of the division bench of justice Markandey Katju and justice Gyan Sudha Misra of the Apex Court, Kasle argued, “The Supreme Court has held that where death is caused by police officers, be it a case of custodial death or an encounter, a harsher view has to be taken.”
“This is a cold-blooded murder, coupled with the disappearance of evidence. Lakhan Bhaiyya was kidnapped with intent to murder,” Kasle said.
She further pointed out that apart from 13 police personnel, two accused Shailendra Pandey and Akhil Khan who also played an active role in the case, should be awarded the death penalty.
Meanwhile, GJ Bhanushali, advocate for Suryavanshi, objected to the prosecution’s demand for capital punishment, and contended that the lives of lot of others depend on the accused and hence capital punishment is not the solution: “Gone are the days where the law was in favour of the eye-for-an-eye principle. New law of reformation has emerged. Hence the accused should not be granted death penalty.”
Bhanushali also argued that the deceased was a known gangster, and the character of a person who has been killed cannot be forgotten.
While defence lawyer Sudeep Passbola, who appeared for constables Ratnakar Kamble and Vinay Shinde, argued that there is no ‘rarest of rare’ element in this case, and brutality and custodial death is not uncommon and so cannot be the factor to decide the punishment.
The defence advocates for other convicts would continue their arguments on Tuesday on the quantum of sentence.
It is only after completion of the argument that the court will decide on what punishment should be awarded to all the convicts.
“The police personnel convicted for fake encounters are the ones who have a social responsibility to protect citizens from criminals, and if they indulge in such criminal activities, a harsher view needs to be taken,” argued special public prosecutor Vidya Kasle, seeking capital punishment for all 13 police personnel convicted for Lakhan Bhaiyya fake encounter.
Among those convicted include former senior police inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi.