MUMBAI: Maharashtra State Women’s Commission (MSCW) has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde against the Bombay High Court’s decision to convert death sentence of a 2008 rape and murder convict to life sentence on grounds of delay.
Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission, Vijaya Rahatkar, has written a letter to CJI Bobde requesting him to take suo motu cognizance of the letter and turn it into a petition for hearing against a Bombay High Court order which commuted the death sentence of a 2008 rape and murder convict to a life sentence on the grounds of delay.
Commutation of death sentence to life is denying justice to the rape victim and the HC doesn’t have rights to do so, the MSWC has said in its letter.
The Supreme Court has the authority to finalize the death sentence. Also, while the President has already dismissed mercy petition, the High Court can’t commute the death sentence, the MSWC has said.
The death sentence can be commuted due to delay in execution of the sentence, but that too can be done only by the Supreme Court.
This has been said by the SC itself in its verdict in case of Shatrughna Chavan v/s Government of India, the MSWC has argued in its letter.
“It is unfathomable that convicts of heinous crimes like rape are let loose just because of delay in execution of death sentence awarded to them. The victim doesn’t get justice even after 12 years, it's very painful. Hence, we decided to appeal the CJI. We are hopeful that the victim will get justice,” Rahatkar said while explaining her stand behind writing the letter.
The original case is about a rape and murder on November 1, 2007, in Pune. A 22-year-old woman from a reputed BPO company was brutally raped and killed by a cab driver Purshottam Borate (37) and his friend Pradeep Kokade (30).
They were sentenced to death by the Pune sessions in 2012.
The HC endorsed the decision that year itself while SC did so as well in 2015.
Mercy petitions of the convicts too were turned down by President Pranav Mukherjee in 2017. However, the execution of the sentence was delayed.
In their petitions, the convicts claimed they suffered “undue and avoidable delay of 1,509 days in the execution of death sentence, solitary confinement lasting more than seven years”.
Upholding their petition, the Bombay HC on July 29, 2019, commuted their death sentence to life.
Sensing the adverse public sentiment over the decision, the MSWC decided to raise the issue with CJI, Rahatkar said.