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Court mum on mercy pleas of rapist liftman

Dhananjoy Chatterjee, who raped and killed teenager Hetal Parekh 14 years ago, may have already been sentenced to death, but the Alipore Central jail authorities still have a stumbling block to cross before they carry out the order.

Dhananjoy had submitted two petitions — on November 17 and 23 — one a writ and the other an appeal to Calcutta High Court, for a stay on the execution and for commutation of his sentence. According to a letter written by the Alipore Central jail superintendent to the state judicial department, the petitions were forwarded to the high court registrar-general, along with copies to the additional district and sessions judge, second court, Alipore. The jail authorities added in the letter that they had not received any order yet in the case either from the high court or Alipore court.

“Now the government will have to contact the high court to find out the outcome of the two petitions. We are not aware of any order issued on the petitions submitted by Dhananjoy,” a senior official of Writers’ Buildings said on Saturday.

The letter adds: “Under the circumstances, it is requested to kindly issue further necessary instruction regarding implementation of the order of conviction and sentence of death in respect of condemned prisoner, Dhananjoy Chatterjee…”

In his petition filed on November 17, Dhananjoy appealed to the high court for reconsideration of the case since the implementation of capital punishment on him had already been delayed considerably and that he had been languishing in jail for the past 12 years. The revision petition was heard by Justice D.P. Sengupta, but the verdict adjourned.

Dhananjoy’s father, too, moved the state government for reconsideration of the death sentence on his son. The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, however, rejected the plea recently.

Dhananjoy, caretaker-cum liftman of a Bhowanipore highrise, raped and killed 14-year-old Hetal Parekh in December 1989. Hetal’s mother had gone out, leaving the keys to their flat with Dhananjoy, asking him to hand over the keys to Hetal when she returned home from school. Dhananjoy gave her the keys, but followed her into the flat, and then raped and killed her.

The trial court sentenced him to be hanged to death in August 1991 and Calcutta High Court upheld the verdict in August 1992. So did the Supreme Court, in 1994. The President’s office, too, rejected Dhananjoy’s mercy petition. Justice D.P. Sengupta, on November 14, 2003, vacated a stay order passed by late Justice N.K. Mitra, in February 1994.

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