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State challenges Devsthalis’ acquittal

mumbai Updated: Nov 30, 2009 00:51 IST
Urvi Mahajani
Urvi Mahajani
Hindustan Times
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The Maharashtra government has approached the Supreme Court challenging the acquittal of the mother-daughter duo, who allegedly kidnapped and killed a Pune-based orthopedic surgeon in 2006.

Leena (58) and Deepti Devsthali (28) had escaped the noose for allegedly killing Dr Deepak Mahajan after the Bombay High Court acquitted them from the charges and convicted them only for kidnapping the doctor.

Special counsel Ashok Mundargi and additional public prosecutor Usha Kejariwal recommended that an appeal should be filed in the Supreme Court against the HC order.

The government’s appeal states that the duo was last seen with Mahajan before his body was found on July 2, 2006. Since there was a difference of five days between the duo leaving a hotel with Mahajan and his body being found, the government has contended that during these five days no one saw Mahajan or spoke to him. All circumstances indicate that the duo killed Mahajan, said Kejariwal.

The HC had set aside the death sentence, stating that the prosecution has not been able to prove that the duo had murdered the doctor. The Devsthalis were found guilty of having kidnapped the doctor for ransom and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Pune sessions court in December 2007 had awarded them a death sentence for killing the doctor.

HC will also hear an appeal by the Devsthalis against their conviction for kidnapping a college boy in Pune, three months before they kidnapped Mahajan.

Prasad Godbole, a college student in Pune was picked up by the mother-daughter in their Alto car in April 2006. Leena, who is Godbole’s paternal aunt, was dressed as a sardarji and Deepti was dressed as Jassi from popular television serial Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and offered him a peda (sweet).

Suspecting something amiss, Godbole did not eat and asked to stop the car. He managed to escape and call his father. A case was registered with the Deccan police station in Pune but the duo was not traceable. They were arrested for kidnapping Godbole only after their arrest for killing Dr Mahajan. Last year, the sessions court found them guilty of kidnapping Godbole and convicted them.