Bombay HC commutes death sentence of 2 in Pune rape-murder case
A Justice BP Dharmadhikari-led division bench sentenced the convicts, Purushottam Borate, 38, and Pradeep Kokade, 30, to 35 years in prison, which will include period already undergone.Updated: Jul 30, 2019 09:37 IST
The Bombay High Court on Monday cited “undue, inordinate and unreasonable” delay in executing two men convicted of raping and killing a business process outsourcing (BPO) employee in Pune in November 2007 while commuting the death sentences handed down to them.
A Justice BP Dharmadhikari-led division bench sentenced the convicts, Purushottam Borate, 38, and Pradeep Kokade, 30, to 35 years in prison, which will include period already undergone.State government did not say anything about filing appeal at the time of pronouncement.
The bench said there has been a delay of more than four years in executing them and that about two years were taken to reject their mercy pleas.
Borate, who worked as a cab driver, picked the employee up for work on November 1, 2007, and drove her to a secluded spot near Gahunje village, where he and Kokade raped and murdered her. The two were arrested a day later. A trial court on March 20, 2012, sentenced them to death. Six months later, the high court confirmed the punishment on September 25, 2012. In May 2015, the Supreme Court upheld their sentences.
The bench said the delay in the execution of the convicts violated their fundamental rights. It added that the extra or additional punishment resulting from such avoidable delay cannot be legalised because it is on account of the undue time taken to consider their mercy petitions. “Such additional punishment is unconstitutional in all circumstances and contingencies,” said the bench. “Quantum or period thereof is also not very material.”
Borate and Kokade moved the high court after a trial court in Pune on April 10 issued death warrants and fixed June 24 as the date for their execution. They sought a stay on their execution and commutation of the death sentences primarily because of the delay.
The convicts contended that the delay violated their right to life. They added there was an “undue and avoidable delay” of over four years in their execution. The convicts said the Maharashtra governor took over two years to reject their mercy petitions.
The two submitted the mercy petitions on July 10, 2015, two months after the Supreme Court upheld their death sentences. The pleas were rejected on March 29, 2017.
The bench also upheld the contention of the convicts that their mercy pleas were rejected without considering the material aspects of the case. It found that information like a copy of the trial court verdict and that Kokade was barely 19 when he committed the crime was not placed before the governor.
In its response to the petitions of the convicts, the Maharashtra government insisted there was no delay attributable to the state authorities. It said the governor’s decision rejecting the mercy petitions was communicated to the trial court immediately.
The bench refused to accept this claim and cited the jail manual, which says the state government has to fix the date and place of execution of convicts on death row. Mere communication of the governor’s decision to the trial court was not sufficient compliance of the requirement, the court said.
First Published: Jul 30, 2019 00:45 IST