Mumbai, April 4 IANS | 9 months ago

For the first time, an Indian court Friday sentenced to death three people, convicted of repeat offences of gang-rape -- of a telephone operator and a photojournalist in the Shakti Mills Complex here last year.

A Mumbai court ordered the death sentence for the trio -- Vijay Jadhav (18), Qasim Hafiz Sheikh, alias Qasim Bengali (20) and Salim Ansari (27) -- in the gang-rape of a photojournalist, said Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

The three convicts have already been sentenced to life imprisonment till death in the July 31, 2013 gang rape of an 18-year-old call centre employee.

They later committed a repeat offence targeting the photojournalist Aug 22, 2013, in the same abandoned Shakti Mills complex, Nikam said of the landmark verdict.

Delivering the verdict, Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi also sentenced convict Siraj Khan to life imprisonment.

Nikam said the three convicts and their accomplices not only committed the brutal rape, but laughed and made fun of the victim as she cried with folded hands and begged for mercy.

"The trio also boasted that they had committed several rapes on the mill premises and nobody had been able to catch them so far. It was these brave victims who came forward and ensured that they are brought to justice," he said, welcoming the judgment.

Nikam added that in view of this "demonic" behaviour of the rapists, the prosecution sought the most stringent punishment for the accused, under the Indian Penal Code's section 376(E), for ten different aggravating circumstances.

"Though the victim was defenceless, helpless, and crying, the accused cruelly beat her, raped her in a particular manner. One of the accused also boasted that they are very dangerous people," he said, citing one of the aggravating circumstance for the enhanced punishment.

The prosecution also pointed out how the accused displayed "depravity of the minds" and enjoyed the act even as the victim was totally defenceless before them.

"Their boasting was a big challenge to the investigating agencies which worked hard and successfully brought them to book. They did not deserve any mercy," Nikam said.

He added that the defence, in view of the young age of the convicts, wanted an opportunity to be given to them for reforming themselves, but the prosecution strongly opposed any leniency as they did not show any leniency to the victims.

"A stringent punishment would help serve a strong message to society and to such criminals," Nikam said.

The three convicts had moved the Bombay High Court challenging the enhanced provision slapped on them, but the court declined to interfere with the sessions court's decision in the matter.

Last month, Jadhav, Bengali, Ansari and their accomplice M. Ashfaque Shaikh (26) were convicted by the court for the July 31 gang rape of a call centre employee and sentenced to life imprisonment till death.

Subsequently, the prosecution sought enhanced charges and punishment against Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, for committing the repeat offence.

Two minors, one in each case, are being separately tried by the Mumbai Juvenile Justice Board and the hearing will start this month.

The three men were found guilty and convicted for the gang rape, wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation, conspiracy, common intent, unnatural sex, and sections of the Information Technology Act as the attackers had also made a video clip of the attack.

(Posted on 04-04-2014)

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