Shakti Mills rape convicts repeat sex offenders: Court

Three accused likely to get capital punishment

Shakti Mills rape convicts repeat sex offenders: Court

The Sessions Court here on Thursday held the three accused in the Shakti Mills gang-rape case guilty of being habitual sex offenders under the amended Section 376(e) of the IPC that could attract the death penalty.

The quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced on Friday by Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi who held the trio — Vijay Jadhav (20), Qasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Qasim Bengali (20) and Salim Ansari (27) — guilty in the two gang-rapes committed on July 31 and August 22 respectively.

The amended law came into force after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, attracting the maximum penalty of capital punishment for repeat offenders. 

The court had last month framed an additional charge against the three under Section 376(e) after announcing life imprisonment till death after the prosecution sought punishment for the convicts under the amended Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

The defence thereafter moved the Bombay High Court challenging the sessions court decision to frame fresh charge against the convicts for being habitual sex offenders. The high court last week, after hearing the defence plea, refu­sed to interfere with the lower court’s decision.

Holding that Section 376 (e) was applicable, the court said, “(The) 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 judgment and it has also proved the identity of the accused,”  the judge observed.

The court also 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. 

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