Shakti Mills gang-rape: Bombay HC sets aside death penalty 8 years later; a look at the case

Eight years after a Mumbai trial court sentenced three accused to death by hanging in the 2013 Shakti mills gang rape case, the Bombay High ...

Eight years after a Mumbai trial court sentenced three accused to death by hanging in the 2013 Shakti mills gang rape case, the Bombay High Court on Thursday set aside the death penalty awarded to three accused and send them to life imprisonment.

The bench, while pronouncing its order, said that it cannot ignore the fact that the offence has shocked the collective conscience of the society and rape is a violation of human rights, but the sentence of death is irrevocable.

It added that courts have a duty to consider cases dispassionately and cannot ignore the procedure laid down by the law.

"Death puts an end to the concept of repentance. It cannot be said that the accused deserved only death penalty. They deserve imprisonment for life to repent the offence committed by them," the bench said.

It added that the convict shall not be entitled to parole or furlough as they cannot be allowed to assimilate into the society and as there is no scope for reformation.

What happened in 2013? 

In August 2013, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang-raped inside Shakti Mills in Mumbai. Later, an eighteen-year-old call centre employee reported that she too had been gang-raped, on 31 July 2013, inside the same mills complex.

The incident triggered outrage across the country. People from all walks of life, political parties, media associations and Bollywood demanded the harshest punishment to the perpetrators.

In April 2014, a sessions court in Mumbai held five persons guilty in the gang-rape of the photojournalist at Shakti Mills in Mumbai. Three of the five men convicted — Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Sheikh alias Bengali and Salim Ansari — were held guilty of both crimes.

A session court had in April 2014 convicted Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Salim Ansari (28) and Siraj Khan for raping a photojournalist in Shakti Mills on August 22, 2013.

Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari were sentenced to death as they were earlier also convicted for the gang rape of another girl in July 2013. Siraj was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Shakti Mills in Mumbai where the 22-year-old photojournalist was gang-raped in August 2013. Firstpost

Under Section 376 (e) of the Indian Penal Code, a repeat offence of rape is punishable by death. In March 2013, the Centre amended the rape laws in the country, introducing several stringent provisions, including section 376 (E). This section says if a person, who has been previously convicted for rape under the IPC section 376, is subsequently found guilty of a similar offence, the courts can sentence him to imprisonment for the rest of his life, or, even award the death penalty.

Following is a brief chronology of the gangrapes (of photojournalist and telephone operator) in the Shakti Mills compound in 2013.

Photojournalist gangrape case:

August 22, 2013 - A 22-year-old photojournalist visits the desolate Shakti Mills compound in Central Mumbai for an assignment accompanied by a male colleague. Five accused, who initially offered her help, later rape her inside the mill compound.

August 23, 2013 - The Mumbai police solve the case with the arrest of a 17-year-old accused. The rest of the accused are arrested in a week.

September 19, 2013 - Mumbai Police files a 600-page charge sheet in the case. In all, 13 charges are pressed against the five accused including that of gang rape, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and wrongful restraint and sections under the Information Technology Act.

October 11, 2013 - Charges in the case framed.

October 18, 2013 - The survivor (journalist) faints in court during her deposition.

March 5, 2014 - Court records statement of the accused and puts forth 970 questions.

Telephone operator gang rape case:

July 31, 2013 - 18-year-old operator gangraped by five accused (including three men who were also charged in the photojournalist case) at the abandoned compound. The victim had visited the spot with her boyfriend.

September 3, 2013 - The victim files a complaint with the police.

October 8, 2013 - Mumbai police files a 362-page charge sheet against the accused.

October 30, 2013 - The survivor during her deposition seeks permission from the court to beat up the accused. Her request is turned down.

Feb 22, 2014 - Court records statement of accused and puts forth 496 questions.

April 2014 - The trio approached the high court challenging the validity of section 376 (e) of IPC and contended that the sessions court acted beyond its power in awarding them the death penalty.

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India World News: Shakti Mills gang-rape: Bombay HC sets aside death penalty 8 years later; a look at the case
Shakti Mills gang-rape: Bombay HC sets aside death penalty 8 years later; a look at the case
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