The Bombay High Court on Monday upheld the constitutional validity of a section in the Indian Penal Code that sentences repeat rape offenders to death penalty.
A Division Bench of Justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite-dere said, "We are of the opinion that Section 376(e) (punishment for repeat offenders) of the Indian Penal Code is not ultra vires to the Indian Constitution and hence need not be quashed in the case."
Vijay Jadhav, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh, and Mohammad Salim Ansari were sentenced to capital punishment for the gang rape of a telephone operator in July last year and of a photojournalist in August 2013 .
They challenged their conviction and the constitutional validity of the new Section of 376(e). The Section reads, whoever has been previously convicted under Section 376 (punishment for rape) or Section 376A (intercourse by a man with his wife during separation) or Section 376D (gangrape) and is subsequently convicted under either A or D shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
The fourth accused, Siraj Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment and the fifth, a minor, was sent to a correctional facility. On November 21, 2018, the High Court had decided to hear their pleas on January 14, 2019 but the State government was not prepared.
On January 25, 2019 another Division Bench of the HC had pulled up the Maharashtra government for its ‘insensitivity’ in failing to secure an expedited hearing on the confirmation of death sentence awarded in April 2014.