The Bombay high court on Thursday reserved its judgment on the government's petition seeking confirmation of the death penalty awarded to Pune ST bus driver Santosh Mane, and the latter's appeal challenging the sentence. Mane was sentenced to death by a sessions court for mowing down nine people and injuring 36 in a road rage incident in January 2012.
During the conclusion of arguments before a division bench of Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode, the defence sought leniency on grounds that Mane had no motive, whereas the prosecution sought confirmation of the death penalty saying there was no chance of reform.
Jaydeep Mane, the driver's advocate, said his client had no motive to commit such an act. He had earlier argued that his client was of unsound mind. However, the high court had dismissed his argument while upholding the driver's conviction.
Meanwhile, public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde sought confirmation of the death sentence saying there was no chance of his reform. Showing leniency to Mane would send the wrong signal to society, and hence, he should be awarded a deterrent punishment. He said that Mane went on a rampage and killed innocent persons who could not defend themselves. He had several chances to stop, but he chose not to. Shinde argued that as per several Supreme Court judgments, dependency, poverty and age cannot be mitigating circumstances to award lesser punishment. While imposing the punishment, the courts should not only consider the circumstances of the accused, but also of the victims, he added.
During earlier hearings, the high court had posed the question as to whether such a person 'can be permitted to be a party of the society'.
*On January 25, 2012, Mane hijacked an empty state transport bus from the Swargate depot in Pune and sped off on the wrong side of the road, catching oncoming traffic and people unawares.
*Mane drove for about 25 kms, during which he rammed into pedestrians, moving and stationary vehicles. He was later nabbed by the police.
*In December 2013, the sessions court at Pune had awarded Mane the death penalty killing 9 people and injuring 37 others.