Gujarat HC commutes death sentence in rape and murder case

The Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentence awarded to two convicts in the 2007 Chandni rape and murder case, to life imprisonment.

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence awarded to two convicts in the 2007 Chandni rape and murder case, to life imprisonment.

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court headed by Justices Akil Kureshi and RP Dholaria today ruled that the case was not a fit one to fall into the "rarest of the rare" category.

The High Court commuted death sentences awarded to Mohan Hamir and Mahesh Chauhan alias Bhado by a Junagadh sessions court in December 2011 to life imprisonment of 30 years and 20 years respectively.

Besides sentencing Hamir and Mahesh to death for murdering Chandni and raping her friend, the Junagadh sessions court had also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each on the two accused.

In a 132-page order, Additional District Sessions Judge GM Patel had said this was a "rarest of the rare" case, and if let off, the accused would pose a danger to society.

The conviction was challenged by the duo in the High Court and at the same time, the Gujarat state government had filed a petition for confirmation of their death sentence. Both the cases were heard by the High Court and disposed off.

The incident took place on May 13, 2007 when Rajkot-based Ramjibhai Vinjvadiya`s family had gone to Datar mountain in Junagadh for a pilgrimage with daughter Chandni (15) and her 18-year-old female friend.

On the way down from Dattatreya temple, the two girls fell behind the others, when the accused Hamir and his friend Mahesh Chauhan alias Bhado, who were both drunk, abducted them.

After Chandni resisted, Hamir slit her throat with a knife and killed her. Later, they raped Chandni`s female friend before fleeing the spot.

The accused remained untraceable until May 2009, when
Mahesh was arrested by the Junagadh Local Crime Branch (LCB) and his interrogation led them to Hamir who was arrested from Mumbai.

Repercussions of the incident was such that the Koli and Khant communities had launched state-wide agitations after the incident, since Chandni was a Koli, while her female friend belonged to the Khant community.

Koli leader and Gujarat BJP legislator Parshottam Solanki had even submitted his resignation as a minister but was later persuaded to withdraw it.


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