Three convicts in the telephone operator gangrape case have sought time from a Mumbai Session court to appeal in the Bombay High Court against the additional charge under section 376 (E) of the Indian Penal Code framed by the court on Monday against them. Under this section which pertains to repeat offenders, convicts could face capital punishment.

Last Thursday, the court had convicted five adults namely - Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Sheikh alias Bengali, Salim Ansari and Mohammad Ashfak Shaikh and Siraj Sheikh in two gang rape cases involving a telephone operator and a photo-journalist at Shakti mill last year. Of the five, three accused — Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari — are common in both the cases.

On Friday, the special public prosector, Mr. Ujjwal Nikam had moved an application seeking enhancement of sentence under section 376(E) of the Indian Penal Code, against the three common accused.

Accepting the prosecution’s case, the additional charge was framed under the amended section which came into effect after the Delhi gangrape case on the suggestions made by the Justice Verma Committee on Monday.

Supporting its case, two police men deposed before the Sessions court on Tuesday including the investigating officer (IO) in the telephone operator gangrape case.

While the IO identified the three convicts as accused in his case, thereby supporting the prosecution’s claim that they are repeat offenders. A repeat offender under the new law is described as one who “has been previously convicted of an offence and is subsequently convicted of an offence.”

The other policemen told the court that Kasim Bengali, one of the convicts, had committed a theft in 2011 when he was a minor (juvenile in conflict with law) and was granted bail on the surety of good behaviour. However in 2013, Kasim was booked in the gangrape case and had breached the bail condition.

The court has now adjourned the matter to 4pm.

Last Friday, the court awarded life sentence to the four convicts in the gangrape of a telephone operator at the Shakti Mills compound last year. This means the accused face imprisonment till the end of their natural lives.

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