Pune’s Shivaji Nagar Court, on 9 May, awarded the death sentence to three convicts in the 2009 rape and murder of 28 year-old software engineer, Nayana Pujari.
On 8 May, a special court in Pune had convicted the three men in the 2009 case. Special Judge LL Yenkar, convicted the trio – Yogesh Raut, Mahesh Thakur and Vishwas Kadam. The fourth accused was released as he turned approver in the case.
The trio was convicted of committing seven counts of various offences – including those of kidnapping, gangrape, murder, robbery, misappropriation of property – after hatching a criminal conspiracy in accordance with their common intention. The three were acquitted of three other charges, including those of abduction with an aim to commit murder, causing hurt while committing the robbery and the destruction of evidence, as the prosecution failed to prove these charges.
What Is the Case?
Nayana Pujari, who worked at an IT firm in Kharadi, was kidnapped on the evening of 7 October 2009 from Kharadi bypass while waiting for a transport to return home. Her body was found two days later from Zarewadi forest area in Khed tehsil of Pune district.
The investigation into the case revealed that the victim was kidnapped and later gangraped in a car. The woman was strangled and bludgeoned to death in the forest. The accused also used her ATM card to withdraw money from her account.
The brutal rape and murder of Nayana Pujari had brought to the fore the lack of security for women working in the IT and BPO sectors.
The investigation led to the arrest of four people – Yogesh Raut, Mahesh Thakur and Vishwas Kadam and Rajesh Chaudhari.
Earlier, during the trial, prime accused Raut escaped from the Sassoon General Hospital on 17 September 2011, while being escorted to the hospital for treatment. He was arrested from Shirdi around 20 months after his escape.
“Tomorrow (9 May) we will press for the death punishment to all three convicts as this is a fit case under the ‘rarest of rare’ category,” Advocate Harshad Nimbalkar, Special Public Prosecutor had said, adding that 37 prosecution witnesses were examined during the trial.
Nimbalkar said that Chaudhari, who turned approver in the case, had been let off by the court. He added that the trial, which lasted for six years, saw four judges adjudicating the case.
Abhijit Pujari, the victim's husband, who was present along with Nayana's sister Manisha Ganbavle, demanded death penalty for all the three convicts.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI. This story has been updated to reflect the verdict.)