The sessions court in Mumbai is likely to pronounce the quantum of sentence to the convicts in the Shakti Mills photojournalist gangrape case on Friday. Three men convicted of two gangrapes in Mumbai’s Shakti Mills compound last year, have become the first to be convicted under section 376 E of the IPC, which punishes repeat offenders with a life term or the death sentence.
Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi convicted Vijay Jadhav (19), Kasim Bengali (21) and Mohammed Salim Ansari (28) under section 376(e) of Indian Penal Code. The three were earlier convicted in the case related to gangrape of a telephone operator at the Shakti Mills compound and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The section 376(e) (repeat offence of rape), which was introduced after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, attracts the maximum penalty of death. This is the first time in the country the section has been applied.
Holding that the section 376 (e) was applicable, the court said, “Legislature wants to ensure that such tendency should be crushed.” Accepting special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam’s argument, judge Joshi said the crux of the matter is whether the accused have been previously convicted when the (additional) charges (under section 376 (e)) were framed in the present case.
“The prosecution has proved the earlier conviction by producing certified extract of the judgement and it has also proved the identity of the accused,” observed judge Joshi. The court rejected the defence argument that charges under the new section should have been framed earlier. “The charges can be framed only when the previous conviction is recorded,” the judge said.
Section 376(e) doesn’t constitute any independent or separate offence but provides for enhancement of the sentence for those who are previously convicted, the court said.