Kopardi rape-murder case: Bombay HC judge recuses from hearing convicts’ pleas against death sentence

The three men had in July 2016 brutally raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl in Ahmednagar district’s Kopardi village.

Bombay High Court judge Justice Sadhana S Jadhav on Monday recused herself from hearing appeals filed by the three convicts in the Kopardi rape and murder case against the death sentence awarded to them, along with the state government’s plea seeking confirmation.

The pleas had come up for hearing before a division bench of Justice Jadhav and Justice Prithviraj K Chavan. Recusing herself from hearing the case, Justice Jadhav noted in the order, “Not before the bench of which Justice Sadhana S Jadhav is a member.”

The three men had on July 13, 2016 brutally raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl in Kopardi village in Ahmednagar district’s Karjat taluka.

In November 2017, the Ahmednagar District Sessions Court held main acused Jitendra Babubal Shinde alias Pappu (21) and co-accused Santosh Gorakh Bhaval (29) and Nitin Bhailume (28) guilty in the case and awarded death sentence to them. The convicts thereafter moved the HC with their appeals against the sentence.

Massive protests by the Maratha community had erupted across the state in 2016 in the wake of the incident. It also created strong political ripples with the Congress and NCP, which were in the Opposition, demanding the resignation of then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on moral grounds.

The Chief Justice of the high court had in November 2019 passed an order transferring all four pleas, including appeals by the convicts and the state’s petition seeking confirmation of their death sentences, from the Aurangabad bench of the HC to its principal seat in Mumbai. Now, another bench of the high court will take up the pleas in due course.

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