HC upholds death in BPO employee rape-murder

The Bombay High Court on Monday upheld capital punishment awarded to two convicted for the gangrape and murder of BPO employee Jyotikumari in Pune in 2007.

A Pune sessions court had passed the sentence on cab driver Purushottam Borate (31) and his friend Pradeep Yashwant Kokade (25) for kidnapping, raping and murdering her in Pune in November 2007. They had appealed the verdict and the HC Division Bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode had last week upheld their conviction.

The court on Monday said, "Any woman who now takes a cab will be afraid till she reaches her destination."

Jyotikumari, who was from Gorakhpur and had joined Wipro BPO (then Spectramind) in December 2006 was staying with her sister and brother-in-law. Around 10 pm on November 1, 2007, the last day of her notice period with the company, driver Borate, along with Kokade had picked her in the office cab for her night shift. When she did not return by 10 am on Friday, her brother-in-law lodged a missing person complaint with Chatushrungi police. Her Delhi-based sister, too, had reported that Jyotikumari's Bangalore-based friend was unable to get through her cellphone after her call made during the cab drive was abruptly disconnected the previous night.

Police found her body on Friday morning in Gahunje, about 35 km from Pune, but was unable to establish her identity until they came across the complaint filed by her brother-in-law. Borate and Kokade were arrested.

Principal Pune district and sessions judge Anant Badar had sentenced them to death. Ujjwal Nikam was special public prosecutor in the case.

Prosecution lawyers Revati Dere and Prajakta Shinde during arguments in the HC said the victim died a violent death. She was strangulated with a dupatta, her bones were fractured, her head was smashed against a stone causing skull fracture and her wrist slashed with blade. Dere argued, "The incident impacted women working on night shifts. In an era of equal opportunities if women's security is jeopardised, it has to be considered (by the court)."

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