Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld the Trial Court judgment awarding Death penalty to three staffers of a Private Bus involved in Sendhwa Bus burning case in which 15 passengers were charred to death and more than 20 sustained severe injuries. However the Court acquitted the owner of the bus who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Trial Court.
A division bench of Justices PK Jaiswal and JK Jain heard the appeal in first week of October and pronounced the Judgment this Wednesday.The incident took place in August, 2011 which was triggered by a petty dispute between the staffers of two private bus operators. Rajkumar Kushwaha, Dilip Sharmaand Tarun Soni, were cleaner, conductor and driver of the bus owned by Naresh Kumar Doshi, proprietor of Ashok Travels.
Upholding the death penalty awarded to the staffer trio, Rajkumar Kushwaha, Dilip Sharma and Tarun Soni, the Court said that time, place, manner and the motive behind commission of crime speak volumes of the callous nature of the offence. The Court said “The entire incident shocks the collective conscience of the community. The acts of murder committed by the appellants are so gruesome, merciless and brutal that the aggravating circumstances far outweigh the mitigating circumstances. Thus, we have no hesitation in holding that this case falls in the categories of 'rarest of rare cases' where the sentence for death of appellants has rightly been awarded by the trial Court and such sentence eminently was desirable, which in our considered view, not only deters others from committing such atrocious crime, but also manifest society's abhorrence of such crime.” This case not only shocks the judicial conscience, but even the conscience of the society and in our view, the nature of crime and the situation demands award of death sentence, the court held.
The owner of the bus Naresh Kumar Doshi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment got acquitted by the High Court. The Court said “It is also settled law that if the person is not at the spot of the crime and is trying to be roped in by virtue of his being owner/co-conspirator in committing the incident, very strong proof is required to be adduced by the prosecution. This being totally absent in this case”. The court also remarked that the trial Judge seems to have been over whelmed by the number of deaths, which occurred in the case and on moral conviction recorded a conviction against owner. The court observed “Naresh Kumar Doshi, being the bus owner, there is absolutely, no evidence of any meetings of mind of Naresh Kumar Doshi, who was 300 Kms. away from the spot, of entering into a conspiracy and asking the condemned accused persons to set fire the conductor and set ablaze the bus does not arise.”
Read the Judgment here.