The Bombay High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence of two persons accused of brutally raping and murdering a BPO employee in 2007. The incident had sent shock waves across the country.
A Division Bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode upheld the death sentence given by a lower court in Pune to cab driver Purshottam Borate and his friend Pradeep Kokate. Last week, the Bench upheld their conviction.
“We have taken into consideration the manner in which the offence was committed and its deep impact on society. Any woman now will think twice before taking a cab alone,” Mr. Justice Kanade remarked.
The court accepted the prosecution’s arguments on the brutality with which the crime was committed, its impact on the collective conscience of society and the concerns it raised about the safety and security of women at large.
Public Prosecutor Revathi Dhere said the accused had murdered the victim in three steps — by injuring her with a sharp weapon, by strangulating her and then smashing her head with a stone. She said the crime was pre-meditated and the conduct of the accused after the act displayed no sense of remorse.
The duo were calm; “they lied to the next employee they picked up and even made false entries in the [schedule] sheet,” Ms. Dhere told the court. She drove home the victim’s vulnerability and her young age, of which the accused took advantage.
The prosecution contended that the defence’s argument about the age of the accused and their family background could not be considered as a “paramount consideration” to tilt the verdict in their favour. The mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating ones, she said.
“Rare, but not rarest of rare”
Defence counsel Rahul Kate argued that the duo had “widowed” mothers back home. He said that while the case was rare it did not fall within the definition of the “rarest of rare.”
In the light of the gravity of the incident, the prosecution also called upon the court to frame guidelines for companies about ensuring the safety of their women employees. Heeding the argument, the Division Bench said it would request the Chief Justice of the High Court to that effect and ask him to treat the request as public interest litigation appeal. The victim’s brother-in-law Gaur Sunder told journalists that the verdict was “not a victory.”
“She is not going to come back. There is at least the solace that the death sentence will bring safety to other women, ” he said.