Nearly 17 months after Keenan Santos,24,and Rueben Fernandez,29,were killed after they allegedly confronted a group of men who were misbehaving with their female friends,the case has been transferred to a specially designated all-womens court set up on March 14.
Principal Judge of the sessions court,Swapna Joshi,on Monday assigned the case to Judge Vrushali Joshi,designated to handle cases of violence against women exclusively. The order came after Avinash Bali,one of the victims friends and a complainant in the case,moved an application seeking that a woman judge handle the trial.
As many as 21 persons have been booked for murder,conspiracy and molestation.
Bali had claimed that as most of the witnesses were women,it was essential that the case was tried before a woman judge to ensure they felt comfortable while deposing. As many as 21 witnesses have been mentioned in the chargesheet filed in the case by the police.
While charges have been framed in the case,the trial is yet to begin. Balis application was not contested by the prosecution. However,defence lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan opposed the application,citing delay as one of the reasons. The first witness in the case,Bali is yet to be examined.
According to prosecution,when Santos and Fernandez were attacked outside a popular eatery in Amboli on October 20,2011,when they tried to protect their women friends from a group of hooligans. The hooligans retreated,only to return with more than a dozen others to assault the two youth. Santos died the same day,while Fernandez succumbed on October 31,2011,to the multiple stab injuries.
This is the second case assigned to the special all-womens court,the first being the case of a corporate lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha (25),who was allegedly murdered at her Wadala flat by security guard Sajjad Ahmad Mughal alias Sajjad Pathan.