Death penalty commuted to life imprisonment due to delay in execution of Rape accused : Bombay HC
Two accused named Pradeep Kokade and Purshottam Borate were convicted for gang rape and murder of a woman of 22 year old and later disposed off her body in Pune in 2007. Both of them sought quashing of death warrants issued against them and also prayed against the dismissal of their mercy petitions filled before the Governor of Maharashtra and President of India.
The advocate on the behalf of the petitioners submitted that there was unreasonable delay of 4 years 1 month and 6 days for the execution of their death penalty.It was also submitted that after the decision of the Sessions Court to award capital punishment to both the accused the convicts have continued in solitary confinement for more than 8 years and hence the same is violative of their right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It was also pleaded that the decision was taken ex parte and the accused got no chance to defend their case. He also cited the case Shatrughan Chahuhan and Anr. v. Union of India and Anr. to support his contentions.
However Advocate General rejected the claims of the petitioners of staying in solitary punishment and Phansi Yard. He submitted that there is no such thing as Phansi Yard instead it is a tight security yard where prisoners have given opportunity to interact with each other and can play in the veranda or the courtyard.
The division bench of the Bombay High Court consisting of Justice BP Dharmadhikari and Justice SS Joshi was of the opinion that there was unreasonable and inordinate delay in execution of the death penalty that have rendered great mental agony to the convicts. Hence it is in interest of justice to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment for 35 years.
The bench noted-
“Concept like telegram or express letters used years ago show the need of utmost speed & hence use of fastest mode of communication then available. Now it has to be E-mail, Fax or Telephone. Not resorting to these devises in digital era would be to deliberately delay the exercise or to derail it. It would be an instance of avoidable delay.”