Bombay HC Sets Aside Death Penalty For Shakti Mills Gangrape Convicts

Shakti Mills Gangrape Case, Students Held For Love Jihad, Reduced Jail Term
The Bombay High Court on November 25, reduced the sentence for the three convicts in the Shakti Mills gangrape case to rigorous life imprisonment. The court while sentencing the three convicts for gangrape of a 23-year-old photojournalist in 2013, said, “Constitutional courts cannot award punishment based on public opinion.”

The death penalty for the three convicts was awarded by the Sessions Court on the grounds that they were repeat offenders, under Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code. This section was added through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 after the Nirbhaya gangrape case of Delhi in 2012.

Justices SS Jadhav and PK Chavan of the Bombay High Court upheld the conviction of the three men but reduced the sentence. Now, they have to serve life imprisonment and will not be entitled to parole or furlough.

After seven years of the death sentence, the Bombay High Court said, “While setting aside the death sentence, it may be said that we took counter majority view but the constitutional court is to follow the procedure.”

The three convicts were given death sentences by the Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi. The prosecution had evoked Section 376E of the IPC.

The reduced sentence judgement was made by the High Court while hearing the appeals filed by Vijay Jadhav, Mohammed Kasim Bengali, Mohammed Salim Ansari, Siraj Rehman Khan and a juvenile convict.

In March 2014, Vijay Jadhav, Mohammed Kasim Bengali and Mohammed Salim Ansari were convicted under Sections 354B (assault), 377 (unnatural offence) and 376D (gangrape) of the IPC. While Siraj Rehman Khan was sentenced to life imprisonment and the juvenile was sent to the correctional facility.

Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari were awarded death sentences as they were also convicted in another rape case in the same area. Their case was argued by Advocates Yug Mohit Chaudhary and Payoshi Roy who argued that Section 376E which mandated the death penalty was wrongly evoked. According to them, it can only be awarded after the convicts have served the sentence and are “given an opportunity of reformation.”

The Shakti Mills Rape Case

In 2013, a 23-year-old photojournalist had gone to Shakti Mills in Mumbai, Maharashtra, along with a male colleague for a photo shoot. In there five men tied the colleague and gangraped the photojournalist.

The court convicted all except the juvenile, under sections related to wrongful restraint, gangrape, destruction of evidence as well as other sections under the Information Technology Act.

Later a 19-year-old telephone operator too filed a case against three of the same accused and more. This time a case was filed against seven including two minors.

Suggested Reading:

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