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Balance rights of convicts, victim family: Maharashtra to HC

twitter-logoPTI | June 20, 2019 | Updated 21:23 IST

Mumbai, Jun 20 (PTI) The Maharashtra government Thursday opposed in the Bombay High Court petitions of two death row prisoners seeking a stay on their execution and said the HC has to keep a balance between the rights of convicts, the victim's family and collective conscience of the society. It sought dismissal of the petitions filed by the two convicts - Purushottam Borate and Pradeep Kokade - awarded the death penalty for the rape and murder of a BPO employee in Pune in 2007. They had approached the HC last month, seeking a stay on execution of their death penalty scheduled for June 24. The petitions have claimed the "inordinate delay" in executing them violated their fundamental rights and urged the HC to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment. "Excessive and unexplained delay of over four years (1,509 days) in execution of the sentence of death causes unnecessary and unavoidable pain, suffering and mental torment that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment violative of Article 21 (right to life)," the duo said in the petitions. Arguing for the government, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a division bench, headed by Justice B P Dharmadhikari, the court has to maintain a balance between the rights of convicts, the victim's family and the society at large. "What about the victim's family and the collective conscience of the society?" he asked, opposing the pleas and any commutation of the death sentence. Kumbhakoni said there has been no delay on the part of the government or authorities at the prison, where the two are lodged, in initiating and completing necessary procedure. "What the petitions are trying to do is that under the garb of this so called delay seek the court to commute their sentence. The petitioners have been already convicted and awarded the death penalty by the trial court and then the high court and finally the the Supreme Court has confirmed it," he said. Their mercy petitions have also been rejected by the Governor of Maharashtra and President of India, he added. "This whole process will be defeated if at this stage their death penalty is commuted to life imprisonment," the advocate general argued. The bench will continue hearing on the petitions on Friday. A sessions court in Pune had on April 10 this year issued warrants, setting June 24 as the date for execution of Borate and Kokade. In March 2012, the duo was convicted and awarded the death penalty by the sessions court for kidnapping, raping and murdering the BPO employee in Pune in 2007. The woman had got into her regular cab contracted by the company to report for her night duty on November 1, 2007 in a Pune suburb. The cab driver Borate, accompanied by his friend Kokade, changed the route and took her to a remote place where they raped and later strangled her with a dupatta (stole), according to the prosecution. They also disfigured her face to conceal her identity. In September 2012, the HC confirmed the punishment and the verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2015. The Governor of Maharashtra rejected their mercy petitions in April 2016 and the President in May 2017. PTI SP RSY RHL

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