Bombay High Court stays execution of convicts in Pune BPO Rape and Murder case

The Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the execution of two convicts in the 2007 Pune BPO rape and murder case. The convicts were to be executed on June 24 at Yerawada Central Prison.

A BPO employee was raped and murdered by her company’s cab driver Purshottam Borate and his friend, Pradeep Kokade in 2007.

On the ground of inordinate delay of around two years, the convicts had challenged the rejection of mercy plea by the President of India.

The two convicts also claimed that there was an undue and avoidable delay of 1,509 days in the execution of the death sentence, and that they underwent solitary confinement lasting more than seven years.

The Bombay High Court had confirmed the death penalty in the Pune BPO rape and murder case in September 2012. In May 2015, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court judgment. The President rejected the convicts’ mercy petition in June 2017.

The convicts urged the High Court to strike down the execution warrants and to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate delay.

In its affidavit, the State of Maharashtra had denied the petitioners’ claim of inordinate delay and the prolonged solitary confinement they underwent. It further said that there has not been any delay on the part of state government, either in intimating or in forwarding the documents to Government of India.

Affidavits in reply to the plea were filed by the Superintendent of the Yerawada Prison; Deputy Secretary, State Home Department (prisons); and the Deputy Secretary (Judicial), Ministry of Home Affairs.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the Court on Thursday that a mere delay cannot be a reason for commuting the death sentence of the petitioners but it has to be “inordinate and unexplained”.

Yug Chaudhary, advocate for the two convicts, said that a delay of two years between rejection of the mercy petition by the President and the date of execution is unprecedented in India.

Moreover, Chaudhary had also contented that the sessions court order was prejudiced as it had a remark, “If these people are not hanged, it’ll affect the social conscience of the society.”

Had this remark been part of the documents given to the President and the Governor, they might have taken a different view, Chaudhary claimed

A Division Bench of Justices BP Dharmadhikari and Swapna Joshi heard the plea today.

Chaudhary has been asked to file a response by Tuesday, June 25, on which date the Court will hear further arguments.

Both the petitioners and the state government are expected to move the Supreme Court in case the Bombay High Court ultimately decides against them.

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