Bombay HC to decide on commuting death sentence of two sisters convicted for killing children

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The Bombay High Court in due course will deliver its verdict in the petition of Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit, two sisters from Kolhapur, whose death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2006 for kidnapping 13 children and killing some of them while using them as a cover to snatch purses and chains between 1990 and 1996.

The state government supported granting the death sentence for the sisters.

A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang Kotwal was hearing the sisters’ review plea seeking to commute their death sentence to life imprisonment stating that there has been “inordinate delay” of eight years in deciding mercy plea and execution of their death sentence.

The sisters were arrested in November 1996, while their mother Anjana, who was also a co-accused, had died of illness in the year 1998.  The sisters were convicted by the sessions court in June 2001 and HC had upheld their conviction in September 2004. In 2006, SC confirmed their death sentence for five murders. In August 2014, the President of India rejected their mercy plea, after which the sisters moved HC seeking judicial review of the President’s decision and sought reduction in sentence.

The plea filed by sisters through advocate Aniket Vagal stated that the delay of nearly 8 years in deciding on the mercy plea was “unfair, cruel, excessive and arbitrary,” and same had caused “immense mental torture, emotional and physical agony to them” and their death sentence be reduced to life imprisonment.

While the bench had concluded hearing in the plea on Saturday December 18, it had raised a query to Chief Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai to clarify the government’s position as state has power of remission (reduction) of sentence and it could also decide on not granting such remission to any convict.

On Wednesday, Pai submitted that considering the seriousness of the crime, despite the delay in mercy petition, the state government supported the death sentence and withdrew its alternate submission on “life imprisonment till end of natural life.”

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