HC expedites appeal of rape-murder convict

The Bombay High Court (HC) on Monday expedited 82-year-old Mohiniraj Kulkarni's appeal against a Pune court judgment sentencing him to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of the minor daughter of his domestic help in 2009.

Kulkarni had requested the HC through his lawyer Manoj Mohite that in view of his age and the fact that he has been in custody for many years, his appeal may be expedited. He had been sentenced in early January this year and had appealed against the verdict in in March.

The HC bench of Justice A R Joshi and Justice V K Tahilramani on Monday placed his appeal on board for final hearing from January 21.

Kulkarni was sentenced by the Pune Sessions Court to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Rohini Randive, daughter of his domestic help. The court had also rejected Kulkarni's bail plea that cited discrepancies in the investigations.

Additional sessions judge S D Darane had on January 3 sentenced Kulkarni, a retired senior production manager with Hindustan Antibiotics Limited, for murder, 10-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) for rape and three-year RI for destroying evidence. The crime had taken place on October 14, 2009.

A fine of Rs 12,000 was imposed on him which if he fails to pay will mean nine more months in jail. The minor girl's mother, Rekha Randive, a co-accused in the case had turned approver and was released during trial.

Delivering the judgment, the sessions judge had observed that while it must be considered that the victim was a minor, it cannot be said Kulkarni was a danger to society. "Life sentence would be adequate to serve as a deterrent and reformative punishment," he had said.

Police said Kulkarni had offered Rs 50,000 to Rekha for keeping quiet about the incident. After she started working as a domestic help to take care of Kulkarni's bedridden wife, Kulkarni and Rekha allegedly had illicit relations for about a year.

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