Pune BPO rape & murder: MSCW challenges Bombay High Court order

Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) has lived up to its word and has finally approached the Supreme Court challenging the verdict of the Bombay High Court, which commuted the death sentence of two men, convicted for raping and killing a BPO employee in Pune in 2007.

MSCW through its chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar approached Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde, urging him to take suo motu cognisance of the ‘arbitrary’ decision of the HC.

The HC bench led by Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari had in July this year commuted the death sentence of Pradeep Kokade (30) and Purshottam Borate (37) after considering the delay on the part of both the state and union governments in completing all the procedures for executing the death sentence.

The bench had noted that there was a delay of over 1057 days i.e. four years and a month in executing the death sentences of Kokade and Borate despite the same being confirmed up to the SC and the fact that their mercy petitions were dismissed by both the Governor of Maharashtra as well as the President of India.

Aggrieved by this verdict of the HC, Rahatkar has written to CJI Bobde urging him to take up this matter and give ‘justice’ to the victim.

While speaking to the Free Press Journal, Rahatkar said, “Death is an appropriate punishment for people who commit such a brutal crime. We want the judiciary to set an example by setting aside the HC verdict.”

“We want the convicts to get death as given by the trial court and confirmed by the top court,” Rahatkar added.

In her five-page letter, Rahatkar has said that commuting death penalty into life imprisonment only on the ground of delay caused by the administration, is a miscarriage of justice to the victim.

The MSCW chief also highlighted that there has been a number of cases, wherein power to commute the death sentence in such circumstances is only with the Supreme Court.

“In a number of precedents, it is observed that in each case when the death penalty was commuted post rejection of mercy petitions, the same was done only by the SC and not by the High Courts.

In the instant matter, the HC has gone way ahead by commuting the said sentence,” Rahatkar has pointed out.

“Such arbitrary commutation would be an abrogation of rights and gross miscarriage of justice towards the victim. It is not only miscarriage of justice but it has also caused huge social discontent,” Rahatkar has said.

Rahatkar has accordingly urged CJI Bobde to consider her letter as a petition and take suo motu cognisance of the matter and set aside the HC judgment.