The Bombay High Court Tuesday confirmed the sentencing of death of state transport bus-driver Santosh Mane, convicted for mowing down nine people in Pune in 2012.
“This is an exceptional and rarest of rare case where the crime is so cruel, diabolical and revolting so as to shock the collective conscience of society,” the court observed while dismissing Mane’s appeal and directing the accused to “be hanged.”
In their judgment, Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode wrote, “This is not a case of a driver of a public vehicle committing a road accident driving a bus on duty but a case where, after hijacking the bus, he killed innocent people and damaged public property. This is not a case where due to mechanical fault, he was unable to stop his vehicle. The magnitude crime cannot be brushed aside on the ground of false plea of insanity raised after the gruesome and gory incident.”
Rejecting his insanity plea, the High Court had on July 23 held Mane guilty of murder. The 42-year-old bus driver, sentenced to death by the sessions court in Pune on April 8, 2013, appealed to the High Court against his conviction. Reportedly unhappy with his working hours as a driver with Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), Mane hijacked a bus on January 25, 2012 and allegedly went on a rampage.
In May 2013, Mane moved the High Court challenging his conviction and the death sentence. In September 2013, the High Court set aside the death sentence and asked the sessions court to take a fresh decision on quantum of punishment. The Pune sessions court upheld the death sentence on December 11, 2013. Consequently, Mane filed an appeal in High Court against his death penalty.
Considering Mane’s defence of being mentally unsound, the court concluded that he was not able to prove he could appeal for leniency under section 84 of IPC.
Testimony of key defence witness, Solapur-based phychiatrist Dr Dilip Burte, who claimed to have given him electric shock treatment in 2010 — the court observed, was “demolished” by the prosecution and could not be relied on.
“From whatever evidence given by him (Burte) it does not show the accused’s cognitive faculties were completely or gravely impaired. Had it been shown, he would have advised the accused, or his brother not to permit the accused to drive the vehicle or he would have promptly informed ST authorities that the accused should not be given the task of driving the vehicle,” the court noted.