The prosecution Monday sought death sentence for 15 persons 13 cops and two civilians who were held guilty of murdering former Chhota Rajan aide Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya in cold blood in November 2006.
In her argument that stretched for over three hours,special public prosecutor Vidya Kasle relied on several Supreme Court rulings. Death caused by police in custody or encounter killings falls under the realm of the rarest of rare cases, she argued.
Sessions judge V D Jadhawar Thursday convicted 21 persons but dismissed senior inspector Pradeep Sharma was cleared of all the charges. The 22 accused in the case were charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy,abduction and murder.
Prosecution sought death penalty for police officers Pradeep Suryavanshi,Nitin Sartape,Dilip Palande,Ganesh Harpule,Anand Patade and Arvind Sarrankar,constables Tanaji Desai,Ratnakar Kamble,Vinayak Shinde,Devidas Sakpal,Prakash Kadam,Pandurang Kokam and Sandip Sardar. The two civilians are Shailendra Pandey and Akhil Khan.
While the prosecution did not push for death penalty for the remaining six,the minimum sentence in their case would be life imprisonment. In 2011,Kadam had applied for bail before the Supreme Court. While passing the order,the division bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said that cases of fake encounter entailed only death sentence.
Kasle cited lines from the order: Fake encounters are nothing but cold-blooded,brutal murder by persons who are supposed to uphold the law. In our opinion,if crimes are committed by ordinary people,ordinary punishment should be given,but if the offence is committed by policemen,much harsher punishment should be given to them because they do an act totally contrary to their duties.
As conspiracy is proved,it is important to look at the continuous nature of the crime. The conspiracy was hatched to abduct Lakhan Bhaiyya on November 11,2006,and then he was executed the next day. Police officers have been held guilty for a cold-blooded murder… a fake encounter, she argued.
The defence lawyers,however,challenged her claim saying there was nothing uncommon in the act. Seeking a chance to rehabilitate the convicts,defence lawyer Sudeep Pasbola argued that the law clearly seeks death penalty for those who cannot be rehabilitated and could prove a threat to the society.
Once the uniform is taken off,the police officer can not be a threat to the society, Pasbola argued. The judge added,Even in their uniform,an officer can not be called a threat.
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