Rejecting his insanity plea, the Bombay High Court (HC) Wednesday upheld the conviction of Santosh Mane, a bus driver who mowed down nine people with the state transport bus in Pune in 2012. The arguments on sentencing will be heard on August 5.
Mane, who was earlier convicted and sentenced to death by a trial court, had challenged the order in the HC.
Reportedly unhappy with his working hours as a driver at the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), Mane had hijacked a bus on January 25, 2012, and went on a rampage, killing nine and leaving 37 people injured.
“We confirm the conviction. Insanity has not been found. Findings of the trial court have been confirmed,” Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said in an order.
Sandip Shinde, the public prosecutor in the case, submitted in the court that Mane was of “sound mind” when he went on the rampage.
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Shinde argued that during his stay in the hospital after the incident, Mane repeatedly criticised the transport corporation since he was unhappy over not being given day-time duty.
The public prosecutor also submitted that the corporation had, prior to the incident, held nine departmental inquiries for thefts, accidents and damage to public property against Mane. In support of his argument, Shinde had relied on the fact that Mane, at the time of the incident, reversed the bus with precision, avoiding bigger vehicles.
Defence lawyer Jaydeep Mane argued that even after a policeman fired eight rounds at the bus, Mane continued to drive rashly, which proved that the driver was insane. “A sane person would have stopped the vehicle out of to fear for his life,” he argued.
The defence lawyer also said his client had been under treatment for psychological disorder for over a year.
The bus driver was awarded death penalty by a Pune sessions court on April 8, 2013. He appealed against the death sentence before the Bombay High Court in May 2013. In September 2013, the HC set aside the death sentence and asked the sessions court to take a fresh decision on the quantum of punishment after giving Mane a hearing. The Pune sessions court again awarded him death sentence on December 11, 2013. Consequently, Mane again filed an appeal in the High Court against his death penalty.