Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has set a
two-week deadline for the police to arrest an absconding
convict facing life sentence for the murder of veteran trade
union leader Datta Samant.
Justices B H Marlapalle and Mridula Bhatkar asked the
police to take immediate steps to arrest Vijay Thopte, who
jumped parole in February 2005, by April 19.
Public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani informed the court
that special investigating teams had put in their best efforts
to trace Thopte but did not succeed.
The court was hearing appeals filed by Thopte and another
convict Ganpat Bamne challenging the sentence awarded to them
by a sessions court in 2000.
On July 25, 2000, the trial court awarded life term to
Thopte, Bamne and Arun Londhe for killing Samant on January
16, 1997 at Powai in Mumbai. Londhe died in jail.
Bamne`s counsel Sayaji Nangre appealed to the court to
separate Bamne`s appeal from that of Thopte`s. He said Bamne
had been in prison since his arrest on February 20, 1997. If
Thopte was not found then Bamne would continue to languish in
jail without his appeal being heard.
However, the judges observed that it would not be wise to
separate the appeals of Bamne and Thopte, considering that the
trial court had examined 73 witnesses and there were a bulk of
documents to be taken into account.