Chandraban Sanap, awarded death sentence by a trial court in October 2015 for allegedly raping and murdering 23-year-old Hyderabad techie Esther Anuhya on January 5, 2014, last week told the Bombay High Court that evidence recorded by the trial court cannot be relied upon as it was done when he was not present in the court. His lawyer told the court that except for two witnesses, Sanap was presented in court through video conference.
Sanap, 32, a driver employed in Nashik, had offered Anuhya a lift to her hostel in Andheri (West) early on the morning of January 5, 2014, when she arrived at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) after spending Christmas and New Year with her family in Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
She was employed at the Tata Consultancy Services. He assaulted her when she protested that he was taking her the wrong way.
The 700-page chargesheet said Sanap took her to a secluded spot in Bhandup where he raped and killed her. After setting her body on fire, he left with her two bags.
Esther’s father S J S Prasad had initially lodged a missing person complaint but started to search for her on his own. Her body was discovered by a search party comprising family members and friends on January 16 in a decomposed state.
Advocate Niteen Pradhan representing Sanap told the court that the trial was conducted in the accused’s absence. “Sanap was not present in the court during the trial. He was presented through video conference,” Pradhan told a division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati H Dangre.
The bench is hearing the final arguments on the confirmation of his death sentence and a criminal appeal filed by Sanap challenging the capital punishment by the trial court.
Pradhan told the court that Sanap through an application had informed the special women’s court during the trial that he was suffering from tuberculosis. Accordingly, the court had passed an order directing him to be presented through video conference. He further told the bench that his lawyer in the trial court also requested that as the matter was of serious nature, it should be conducted in his presence.
Pradhan will continue arguments on October 23.