Des him as a remorseless killer and a heinous criminal whose act was a blot on humanity,a Pune court Monday sentenced Maharashtra state transport bus driver Santosh Maruti Mane to death for going amok and killing 9 people in the city in a bizarre bus rampage last year.
Manes crime of using a bus as a weapon fell in the rarest of the rare category due to the revolting and ghastly manner in which the massacre was carried out,additional sessions judge V K Shewale said as he pronounced the sentence.
Forty-one-year-old Mane was convicted on April 8 for killing nine people and injuring 37 on January 25,2012 when he mowed down dozens of pedestrians and rammed into several vehicles,both stationery and moving. He was stopped by the police and public after a killing spree that lasted about 40 minutes on a 15-km stretch.
You were fully aware that innocent people were being killed. Several people,including your seniors,appealed to you to stop when you crushed your first victim at the out-gate of the Swargate depot. But you,in your arrogance,continued driving the bus and killed eight more innocent persons and injured many others with all the knowledge and intention, the judge said addressing Mane.
Those injured,who survived the injuries,have been impaired and will live in pain and agony for the rest of their lives. Many among your victims are poor people – rickshaw drivers,students and housewives – who are bedridden until now and do not have enough money to pay for medical care. Such is the misery that you have brought upon them, he said.
Mane,a father of four,stood in the dock listening without any expression.
Your act is inhuman,ghastly and immensely illegal. You work with the state transport body since 1999 and you know all the motor vehicle rules. Despite this,you committed the act with an intention to teach your seniors a lesson for not changing the night duty assigned to you, the judge added.
If I give you a punishment less than death,I would be undermining the law. It will send a message to society that even after committing such a terrible crime,a criminal can walk out with his head held high by getting his sentence commuted to a shorter sentence. Criminals will not have any fear of law, he said.
During the trial,lawyers defending Mane had pleaded before the court that he was suffering from a serious mental disorder and that that he had committed the gruesome act in a fit of insanity. They had pleaded that he be acquitted under section 84 of the Indian Penal Code which absolves an accused if it is proven that the person committing a crime was not able to understand that the nature of the act was wrong or against the law due to an unsound mind.
A psychiatrist,testifying in court as a defence witness,had told the court that he had treated Mane for mania for 14 months.
The judge,however,refused to buy this argument and relied on the testimony of Manes colleagues and witnesses to conclude that when he committed the act,Mane was in a completely sound mental condition.
While arguing for the death penalty for Mane,prosecution lawyer Ujjwala Pawar described January 25,2012 as the blackest day in the life of citizens of Pune. On the fateful morning the hapless victims of the rampage were unable to know who was killing them and why. They hadnt done anything to attract the animosity of the accused. During the act,innocent citizens of the city were mercilessly killed without any fault of theirs. The entire incidence had shocked the collective consciousness of the citizenry, Pawar had said.