Sonai murder case: SC stays execution of convict’s death sentence

PTI, Sep 28, 2021, 6:32 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the execution of death penalty of a convict for murdering three Dalit men in Sonai village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district in 2013 over an inter-caste love affair.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B V Nagarathna admitted the appeal filed by convict Sandip Madhav Kurhe for hearing and said it is staying his execution.

The bench tagged the appeal along with other pending appeals of other convicts.

On December 2, 2019, the Bombay High Court had upheld the death penalty to four people for murdering three Dalit men. One accused was acquitted.

In January 2018, a sessions court in Nashik had awarded the death sentence in the case to six people — Raghunath Darandale, Ramesh Darandale, Prakash Darandale, Ganesh alias Pravin Darandale, Ashok Navgire and Sandip Madhav Kurhe.

They were convicted on various charges, including murder and criminal conspiracy. The Dalit victims were identified as Sachin Gharu (24), Sandeep Thanvar (25) and Rahul Kandare (20) and all of them worked as sweepers.

All six had moved the the high court challenging their conviction and the capital punishment awarded by the Nashik court. One of the convicts, Raghunath Darandale, died during the pendency of the case.

The high court had confirmed the death penalty awarded to four of the convicts — Ramesh Darandale, Prakash Darandale, Ganesh alias Pravin Darandale and Sandip Madhav Kurhe.

The court, however, acquitted Ashok Navgire (32) for lack of evidence against him.

The three Dalit men were brutally killed in Sonai village of the western Maharashtra district on January 1, 2013, and their mutilated body parts found in a septic tank and a nearby well.

According to police, the killings were prompted by an inter-caste love affair between Gharu and a girl from the Maratha community to which the convicts belong to.

Gharu and his colleagues were summoned by the girl”s family to their home on January 1, 2013 on the pretext of cleaning the septic tank, they had said.

The next evening, the police found Gharu’s decapitated body, with his limbs severed, from the tank. The mutilated bodies of Thanvar and Kandare were found from a well in the village on January 3, 2013, the police had said.

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