A sessions court in Mumbai on Friday awarded life sentence to the four convicts in the gang rape of a telephone operator at the Shakti Mills compound last year. This means the accused face imprisonment till the end of their natural lives.

“The manner in which the offence was committed reflects the depravity of the accused,” observed Principal Sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi while awarding the life term. The crime was not an impulsive act, but the premeditated outcome of a criminal conspiracy. “They sexually ravished the girl and left her in a pathetic state.

“A proper signal has to be sent out to society. Even if in this case the accused are not reformed, others like them will be deterred. In some cases, mercy is justified. But in this case it would be misplaced and would be a mockery of justice”.

The quantum of sentence in the photojournalist’s case will now be pronounced on March 24. Mr. Nikam sought capital punishment for the three persons convicted in both the cases.