The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the ground of brutality alone cannot be sufficient to label a case “rarest of rare” and award death penalty to the guilty.
In the case pertaining to the confirmation of the death sentence handed out to Purshottam Borate (26) and Pradeep Kokade (20) — held guilty of kidnapping, gangraping and murdering a BPO employee from Pune in 2007 — a Division Bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode observed: “The court needs to be sure whether the case falls under the bracket of rarest of rare and deserves the harsh punishment of death. Just on the ground of brutality, a case cannot be said to be rarest of rare.”
The court will hear the case further on Monday.
On Wednesday, the court upheld the conviction of the duo, and said it had found that the trial court that convicted them in March was right in holding them guilty.
“In cases where there is no direct evidence, the prosecution’s circumstantial evidence must be firmly established and there should be no escape from the conclusion that the crime was committed by the accused,” the court observed. The High Court said the prosecution had proved its case beyond doubt.
“The accused abducted the victim using deceitful means, took her to a secluded spot and committed pre-planned act of rape and murder,” the court said. The accused were convicted for kidnapping, rape, murder and criminal conspiracy under the relevant Sections of the IPC.
The court, however, said it would like the prosecution and the defence to submit further mitigating circumstances in favour of the accused before they are handed out the punishment.
“The question of awarding death sentence is very serious. It is a matter of life and death. We need to hear prosecution and defence again on the mitigating circumstances,” Justice Kanade said.
According to the prosecution, Borate and Kokade had picked up the victim, an employee of Wipro, from her home in Pashan around 10.15 pm on November 1, 2007, in a car sent through a logistics company engaged by her employer. She was on her way to the office on the night shift from 11 pm to 9 am.
However, the duo allegedly abducted her and took her to Guhane village near Maval where they raped her, strangulated her with her dupatta, then smashed her head with a stone and slashed her wrist with a blade.