Supreme Court seeks jail report on ST driver who killed 9 in Pune

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a report from the jail on conduct of a Maharashtra State Roadways Transport Corporation (MSRTC) driver who went berserk in Pune in January 2012, killing nine persons and grievously wounding 36 others, some permanently disabled.

Santosh Maruti Mane, who was with MSRTC since August 1999 as a driver, has come in appeal against the death sentence awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the Bombay High Court in September 2014. His counsel sought relief on the ground that he was of unsound mind at the time of the offence and in the alternative see his mental disorder because of hallucination.

The Bench of Justices A K Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer asked the Maharashtra Government counsel to get a report from the jail on his behaviour since arrest till date and his medical record if he were given any treatment and adjourned the hearing to next Wednesday.

Mane had hijacked a bus from Swargate ST depot in Pune on January 25, 2012 after his superior refused to give him single day morning duty instead of night out, killing three persons in the depot, then drove around 16 km outside killing six persons and damaging many auto rickshaws, scooters, cars and electric poles.

He even tried to crush a police officer who tried to shoot him after failing to deflate the bus tyres with bullets until he was caught. The whole gruesome drama went on for 45 minutes. Mane was kept under observation for 12 days to check his mental status and the doctors declared that he was normal and not of an unsound mind.

The trial court also got him examined and noted that he had made false plea of insanity to escape the punishment after realising the consequences of his crime.The High Court held that the trial court rightly held that he had made a false plea of insanity and said: “It cannot be accepted that an insane act cannot be committed by a sane mind.”

His counsel took the same plea of unsound mind because of which he should have been given benefit of Section 84 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He also took the Apex Court through Mane’’s medical examinations by various doctors from time to time after the incident to plead that he should not have been given the death penalty in view of “mental order to some extent.”

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