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Can public outcry justify punishment? HC asks in Pune driver case

Bombay High Court

Hearing the arguments on death penalty awarded by a lower court to Pune-based bus driver Santosh Mane,
Bombay-High-Court-Mumbai-1Mumbai: Hearing the arguments on death penalty awarded by a lower court to Pune-based bus driver Santosh Mane, the Bombay High Court today asked the government to justify if “public outcry” should be a factor in deciding the quantum of punishment.

Mane, a former driver with state transport, had mowed down nine people in Pune in a fit of maniacal driving in January 2012.

The division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode is hearing state’s plea for confirmation of his death sentence, as well as his appeal against the sentence.

The court today also sought to know from the government if there was any possibility of the convict being reformed if his life was spared.

The judges asked government pleader S S Shinde to cite previous judgements of the Supreme Court in favour of reformative punishment.

On January 25, 2012, Mane had hijacked an empty bus from Swargate depot and drove it like a madman until the police and some passers-by caught up with him and stopped him.

While the state has sought confirmation of death penalty saying that he committed a serious crime against the society, Mane’s lawyer, advocate Jagdish Mane, sought leniency, considering that Santosh has a wife, two children and parents to look after and also because he is “mentally sick”.

The High Court has already upheld his conviction.

Advocate Mane also argued that police suppressed the fact during the trial that Santosh was undergoing treatment for mental illness.

The defence also pleaded insanity and sought Santosh’s re-examination by a psychiatrist but the High Court turned down the plea. The arguments will continue tomorrow.

PTI

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