The police commissioners of Mumbai and Pune have got two weeks to trace an absconding convict who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering union leader Datta Samant in 1997.
If they fail to trace Vijay Thopte, D. Sivanandhan and Satyapal Singh, police commissioners of Mumbai and Pune respectively, would have to appear before the Bombay High Court on May 3.
A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayed was hearing an appeal filed by Thopte and another convict Ganpat Bamne challenging their conviction by the sessions court.
Thopte jumped parole in February 2005 and is absconding since then.
On Monday, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Amar Jadhav was present in court in pursuant to earlier court order.
Additional Public Prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani told the court that Mumbai and Pune police have made all efforts but Thopte is still not traceable.
Thopte is from Pune and his parents live there.
Bamne’s advocate Sayaji Nangre sought separation of appeals of Bamne and Thopte.
Considering that the sessions court had examined 73 witnesses and there was bulk of documents to be examined during the hearing in appeal, the judges expressed that they were not willing to separate Bamne’s appeal.
On July 25, 2000, the sessions court convicted Thopte, Ganpat Bamne and Arun Londhe to life sentence for killing Samant on January 16, 1997 at Powai.
Londhe died in jail after the sentencing.
The other two had filed an appeal against their conviction in the high court.
Datta Samant, a former member of Parliament and union leader was shot dead on January 16, 1997, near Powai, after four people fired indiscriminately at his Tata Sumo.