Shakti Mills gang-rape:HC to begin final hearing in Jan

Shakti Mills gang-rape:HC to begin final hearing in Jan

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday fixed January 14 for a detailed hearing on petitions filed by three persons on death row for raping a photojournalist at Shakti Mills compound in 2013.

The decision was taken by a bench of Justices B P Dharmadhikari and Sarang Kotwal following the mutual consent of the state government and the trio's counsels.

Three of the five accused who were convicted by the sessions court in the city in 2014 -- Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Salim Ansari -- had moved the high court after they were sentenced to death for being repeat offenders.

The court had also found them guilty for raping another woman on Shakti Mills' premises earlier.

The fourth accused, Siraj Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment and the fifth, a minor, was sent to a correctional facility.

Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari had challenged the Constitutional validity of section 376 (E) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) during the trial.

The section was introduced by the Union government after the infamous 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.

In March 2013, the Union government amended the rape laws in the country and introduced several stringent provisions, including section 376 (E).

According to the section, if a person, who has been previously convicted for an offence of rape under various provisions of section 376 of the IPC, is subsequently convicted for a repeat offence of rape, the courts can sentence him to imprisonment for the rest of his life, or, even award a death sentence.

The photojournalist, who had gone to Shatki Mills on an assignment with a male colleague, was gang-raped on August 22, 2013, sending shock waves through the city.

The prosecution invoked Section 376 (E) after it was found that four of the accused had raped an 18-year-old telephone operator at the same place a few months ago.