Sentenced to death for crushing to death nine persons and injuring 27 with a bus he had hijacked, Santosh Mane’s life was spared by Supreme Court today (Thursday, Jan 10) which commuted his punishment to a life term on grounds of the convict being of unsound mind.
It was a very unsafe morning for Pune on January 25, 2012, as Santosh Mane, a state transport bus driver decided to hijack a bus at 7 am from Swargate depot and took off, ramming into everyone who came his way on the road. He mowed down 9 people and injured many who just set out from their homes early that morning. His 25 km run created a havoc in the city as he rammed into numerous cars causing massive accidents on the streets.
Eventually, the City Police caught hold of him and arrested him after an hour long chase. He was finally taken down near Neelayam theatre with the help of citizens who kept the police informed about his whereabouts and surrounded him.
On April 3rd 2013, Santosh Mane was charged with section 302(murder) . 381 (theft of employers property), 307 (attempt to murder) and 325(voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the Indian Penal Code and hence was awarded Death Penalty by the Bombay High Court
“The accused has committed the murder of nine persons by moving the bus dangerously with the intention and knowledge that the act was so imminently dangerous that it will cause death or bodily harm,” the judge observed.
The Judge held that the accused did not dash the vehicle against any building on the roads but specifically just people. However, the defence lawyer said that his client would appeal against this sentence suggesting that Mane was not “mentally sound” or aware of his actions and its consequences while he was committing this grave crime.
Amit Chitali, who represented Mane at the Supreme Court stated how since the beginning, the defence’s plea was that at the time of committing this offence, Mane was not mentally stable so section 84 of the Indian Penal Code should have been applied .
IPC’s section 84 suggests that “nothing is an offence which is done by person who,at the time of doing it, by reason of unsoundness is incapable of knowing the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law” . Today, The Supreme Court has commuted his Death Sentence to lifetime imprisonment.
The detailed judgment is yet to come and will be debated further by the standing counsel for the State of Maharashtra in the Supreme Court.