Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday commenced the hearing of a reference made by a trial court to confirm the death sentence of Chandrabhan Sanap, who was convicted for raping and killing software engineer Esther Anuhya. A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre has started hearing the final arguments in the reference tagged along with the criminal appeal filed by Sanap, challenging the capital punishment imposed by a special women’s court in October 2015. On its first day of hearing, the bench heard the arguments of advocate Niteen Pradhan, appearing on behalf of Sanap.
Pradhan read out the statement of the father of Anuhya and also the testimony of a police inspector, who had recorded the statements of several witnesses. These are the two witnesses, whom the trial court had considered while handing over death to Sanap. Having perused the statements, the bench said it would watch the CCTV footage of Lokmaniya Tilak Terminus (LTT), which was relied by the trial court. The footage, reportedly, shows Anuhya, who had just alighted at the station.
According to the prosecution, Anuhya had just returned from her hometown Andhra Pradesh to Mumbai. She had been there for Christmas. An engineer by profession, Esther met Sanap at the railway station while she was searching for a taxi to reach her hostel. Sanap, allegedly posed as a cabbie and offered to ferry Anuhya and she negotiated the fare to Rs 300. She later learnt that Sanap did not have any cab or even an autorickshaw and instead had bought a motorcycle.
Since there was no other mode of transport available at this hour, Anuhya agreed to go with Sanap, who stopped his bike on Eastern Express Highway near Kanjurmarg. Sanap, then dragged Anuhya into the nearby bushes and tried to rape her. When she resisted, Sanap banged her head against a rock and even strangled her with the help of her dupatta. He further used the petrol from his bike and set her body ablaze and fled from the spot. The Mumbai police arrested him from Nasik after Anuhya’s father lodged a complaint with the Kurla Railway police. He was accordingly booked under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and was further convicted by the trial court.