HC asks CP to explain police failure to trace runaway convict
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Last Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010, 21:53
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan to remain present on May 3 to personally explain the failure of police to trace an absconding convict who is facing a life sentence for the murder of veteran trade union leader Datta Samant.

Granting further time to police to trace Vijay Thopte, a runaway convict, Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice A Sayed asked the Police Commissioner to take immediate steps to catch him and explain the status of the case on the next occasion.

Thopte had jumped parole in February 2005 and is untraceable since then.

Public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani informed the court that in keeping with the directives of the judges, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, was present but the court insisted that the Police Commissioner should himself explain what steps had been taken to nab the absconding convict.

The prosecutor submitted that since the convict was not traceable his case should be separated from the rest of the convicts whose appeals are being heard.

However, the court said it would not decide such plea now and opined that police must make efforts to locate Thopte.

On April 6, the prosecutor had 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 sentenced Thopte, Bamne and Arun Londhe to life sentence for killing Samant, union leader and former MP, on January 16, 1997 at Powai in Mumbai. Londe died in jail.

Bamne's counsel Sayaji Nangre had asked the court to separate Bamne's appeal from that of Thopte. 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, Nangre submitted.

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 was a bulk of documents to be taken into account.


First Published: Monday, April 19, 2010, 21:53

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