SC commutes Pune driver Mane’s death sentence to life term
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SC commutes Pune driver Mane’s death sentence to life term

On January 25, 2012, after his working hours, MSRTC driver Santosh Mane hijacked a bus and went on a driving rampage, mowing down dozens of bystanders and killing nine, in Pune.

pune Updated: Jan 10, 2019 16:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Supreme Court,Pune,MSRTC
Santosh Mane had taken out a bus from the depot using a master key in January 25, 2012, and knocked down many two-wheelers, four-wheelers and pedestrians on the route, before he was stopped by local residents and police. (HT FILE PHOTO)

PUNE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded to Santosh Mane, a driver of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), to life imprisonment. On January 25, 2012, after his working hours, Mane hijacked a bus and went on a driving rampage, mowing down dozens of bystanders and killing nine, in Pune.

In 2013, a Sessions Court handed out the death penalty to Mane terming his crime as “rarest of rare”.

In September 2014, Bombay High Court confirmed the death penalty and rejected the defence argument that he be acquitted of murder charges, as he had committed the crime during a “feat of mental unsoundness”.

The driver, a resident of Kavthale, Solapur , who is now 47, appealed to the SC against his conviction, with his lawyers arguing that he be given benefit under Section 84 of IPC. This grants immunity to a person who “commits a crime while being in a state of unsound mind thereby not knowing the nature of the act”.

On December 6, a bench of justice AK Sikri, justice Ashok Bhushan and justice S Abdul Nazeer directed the government pleaders to obtain a report from Yerwada Prison to know how Mane behaved during his stay there. “We would like to find out as to how the petitioner has behaved after his arrest, in jail during the intervening period from 2012 till date,” the bench said on December 6.

On December 13, 2018, advocate Deepa M Kulkarni, who represented the government of Maharashtra, told the bench that she has received a report from the superintendent of Yerwada Prison that the behaviour of Mane has been normal throughout the period he had been at the prison.

The authorities of Yerwada prison then submitted a ‘behaviour’ report of Mane to Supreme Court on Thursday, stating that his behaviour had been ‘normal’ for the past six years in the prison.

A three-member SC bench had sought a report from the jail authorities about Mane’s behaviour during his jail stay and his medical record to decide on the ‘mentally unsound’ argument put forth by the defence lawyer.

Advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar, the standing counsel for state of Maharashtra in the SC, said, “In our submission, we had opposed defence’s plea of insanity. We argued that both trial court and high court had considered the documents pertaining to the case and had rejected the plea that he was unstable.”

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 16:33 IST