Sessions court again awards death to bus driver Mane

Additional District Sessions Judge V K Shewale Wednesday gave death sentence to former state transport driver Santosh Mane, who was convicted for killing nine people and injuring 37 others in January 2012.

Though he was given the same sentence by the district judge on April 3, the Bombay High Court had reverted the case back to district court after Mane complained that he was not given the opportunity to put forward his say on the quantum of punishment.

The judge also blamed Mane and his lawyer for taking 'undue advantage' of the provisions of the law by making an application under Section 329 of CrPC to refer him to a psychiatrist based on the claim that he was mentally unfit to make a statement before the court.

"After being awarded the death sententence here in April, the case went to Bombay High Court. You submitted to the court that you were not given an opportunity to talk about the sentencing before you were awarded the death penalty. The court reverted the case back to this court. However, when the hearing again started you did not talk about the sentence at all. Whenever you were asked questions you kept mum. Instead, you submitted an application saying that you should be psychiatrically evaluated by experts as you were not fit to make a statement before the court," said the judge

"The court repeatedly asked you questions to determine if your illness was genuine or you were feigning the illness to mislead the court. Though prima facie it looked like you were fit to make the statement, the court appointed a panel of four psychiatrists from regional mental hospital to conduct tests on you. This panel, as it has submitted in its three reports admitted by you and your lawyer, also found that you were physically and mentally fit and were suffering from minor issues such as occassional sleeplessness and irritability," said judge Shewale to Mane, who was sitting in the dock. Mane was wearing a cream colour shirt and a light blue pant. He was asked to leave the footwear outside due to the recent incident when a convict hurled a slipper at the judge.

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