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MSRTC rapped for retaining mentally unstable driver

Vinaya Deshpande
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It allowed Mane to continue in spite of his mental illness

The bus that was stolen and driven by Santosh Mane.— File photo: PTI
The bus that was stolen and driven by Santosh Mane.— File photo: PTI

Why did the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) allow Santosh Mane to continue as a driver when he was found to be mentally unstable, the Bombay High Court asked here on Wednesday. It was hearing the death confirmation petition of the rogue driver who had gone on a killing spree after hijacking an empty State Transport bus in Pune in 2012.

He had driven indiscriminately for around 16 kilometres, mowing down people and crashing into vehicles, before being overpowered by a mob. Nine persons had lost their lives and 36 were injured in the mishap.

The driver has challenged the death sentence handed to him by the trail court, on the grounds that he was mentally unstable.

“I feel the world around me is dead, everything around me is dead. I can hear the sounds of mridunga [a percussion instrument] when I close my eyes. I can also hear the sound, ‘chhin, chhin’,” Mane claimed to have told the psychiatrist who was treating him. The defence on Wednesday read out how Mane was mentally unsound, and had been under treatment since the year 2010.

“When MSRTC noticed the abnormality, why did it allow him to continue the job? What medicine was he taking?” the division Bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and P.D. Kode asked.


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