23 May 2017 | Last updated 09:19 AM

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Lessons need to be learnt from Nayana Pujari case
Mubarak Ansari | Sunday, 14 May 2017 AT 10:52 AM IST
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Eight years of hearings in a trial court and one accused being let free are too high a price for justice

The verdict in the Nayana Pujari gang rape and murder case has come about eight years after the incident. Not only this, one of the accused who raped her was made approver in the case and let off by court.

This throws up the question: Why did the trial take so many years in the first court itself, as the convicts will now appeal in the High Court and then may be the Supreme Court, and then perhaps file mercy petitions with the President and nobody knows when the actual execution will take place.

In Pune, four judges changed but the trial continued. Our system is such that many defence lawyers can exploit it for personal gains. They will file several petitions in trial courts and higher courts, which unnecessarily delays the trial. In this case also, the same things happened. Everyone knew that some frivolous petitions are being filed, but nobody could stop the delay. Even fast tracking the case didn’t help.

To make the matters worse, the main accused escaped from police custody in the middle of the trial, after the prosecution had examined six witnesses. This almost brought the trial to a standstill.

Fearing reprisal from the main accused Yogesh Raut, approver Rajesh Chaudhary, who hails from same village of Golegaon in Khed taluka, wanted to withdraw his application of becoming an approver.

Raut was re-arrested after two years and trial again gained some pace. But the defence lawyers wanted to recall some of the witnesses who had been examined. This again delayed the trial.

Pujari (28) from Katraj, who worked with Synechron Technologies Pvt Ltd, then located in Kharadi, was abducted while returning home from her office on October 7, 2009. Pujari’s body was recovered from the Jarewadi forests in Khed taluka of Pune district on October 8, 2009. Special Judge L Yenkar awarded death sentence to Raut (31), Mahesh Thakur (31), Vishwas Kadam (33) and Mahesh Thakur.

Raut and Kadam asked for punishment for Chaudhary as he too took part in the gang rape and his bike was used for going to an ATM for withdrawing money using Pujari’s card. However, the prosecution, in order to make its case strong, agreed to Chaudhary’s plea to turn approver.

This raises a second question: If the police had arrested the accused on the basis of their mobile tower locations and had their photographs at the ATM, was there a need for an approver? Just because Chaudhary was not present at the time of Pujari’s murder, it does not make him a lesser criminal. She could have survived had he opposed his accomplices or informed the police. The police need to strengthen their investigation skills so that an accused is not let off as result of their inefficiency.

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