The Bombay High Court on Thursday confirmed the death penalty awarded by a lower court to Chandrabhan Sudam Sanap, convicted in the sensational 2014 rape-cum-murder of an Andhra Pradesh techie, Esther Anuhya, in Mumbai.
A division bench comprising Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre, confirming a women's court verdict of December 2015, observed that the case fell in the "rarest of rare category" and had "shocked the conscience of society."
The court further said that they had not seen any "remorse" in the (then) 28-year-old accused, did not see possibility of any reform, and "such a person remains a menace to society."
On January 5, 2014, Esther, a 23-year-old software engineer with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), was offered a lift by Sanap on his motorcycle from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) to her hostel in Andheri West.
Sanap raped and murdered Esther. Subsequently he burnt and disposed of her body at a desolate area on the Eastern Express Highway near Bhandup before driving away. Her half-burnt and decomposed body was found after 11 days when some pedestrians reported it.
Investigators who cracked the case nearly two months after she was reported missing said Sanap was a mobile phone thief and robbery was the main motive behind the crime.
That fateful morning Esther had reached Mumbai around 5 am by the Vishakhapatnam-LTT Express, after celebrating Christmas and New Year with her family in Machilipatnam.
En route, Sanap stopped the bike on the pretext that it had run out of petrol, then grabbed and dragged Esther to the bushes in the foggy darkness. She strongly resisted, but he repeatedly clobbered her with stones, raped and strangled her with a dupatta, took her two bags containing a laptop and other valuables, and fled. Later, he came back to search for her mobile phone but could not find it. He burnt her body and again left the crime scene.
Amid a series of protests and massive public support for Esther, the Mumbai Police and Railway Police succeeded in solving the case with the help of CCTV footage of that morning near the LTT premises and mobile call records.