Describing them as a “menace to the society,” the Supreme Court on Friday sentenced to death a cab driver and his male friend for “brutally” raping and murdering an “innocent and helpless” BPO employee in Pune in 2007.
The 22-year-old woman was traveling in her company’s pick-up cab on November 1, 2007, when the driver Purushottam Borate and his friend Pradeep Kokate raped and killer her viciously.
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“They did not show any regret, sorrow or repentance at any point of time during the commission of the heinous offence, nor thereafter, rather did they act in a disturbingly normal manner after commission of crime,” said a bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu.
Confirming the sentence awarded to the duo by the trial court and the Bombay High Court, the bench said that the offence was so meticulously and carefully planned and was executed with sheer brutality and apathy for humanity that in every probability they have the potency to commit similar offence in future.
“It is clear that both the accused persons have been proved to be a menace to society which strongly negates the probability that they can be reformed or rehabilitated. The act shocks and repulses the collective conscience of the community and the court,” said the bench while rejecting the defence counsel’s plea to commute the death penalty to life term. The duo was heard by the top court only on the point of sentence.
The Court drew a parallel with the case of Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who was executed for the murder following a rape of a teenage girl in 1990 at her apartment residence in Bhowanipur in West Bengal.
It thus noted: “The gruesome act of raping a victim who had reposed her trust in the accused followed by a cold-blooded and brutal murder of the said victim coupled with the calculated and remorseless conduct of the accused persons after the commission of the offence, we cannot resist from concluding that the depravity of the appellants’ offence would attract no lesser sentence than the death penalty.”
The Court further underscored that it had to take into account the impact of the crime on the community and particularly women working in the night shifts at Pune, considered as a hub of Information Technology Centre.
Stating that criminal sentencing has become a matter of concern in view of the rise in violent crimes against women, the bench said that punishments must act as a deterrent.
“There are a shockingly large number of cases where the sentence of punishment awarded to the accused is not in proportion to the gravity and magnitude of the offence thereby encouraging the criminal and in the ultimate making justice suffers, by weakening the system’s credibility. The object of sentencing policy should be to see that the crime does not go unpunished and the victim of crime as also the society has the satisfaction that justice has been done to it,” it emphasised.
The Court added: “The society today has been infected with a lawlessness that has gravely undermined social order. Protection of society and stamping out criminal proclivity must be the object of law which may be achieved by imposing appropriate sentence. Therefore, in this context, the vital function that this Court is required to discharge is to mould the sentencing system to meet this challenge.”