A city court is likely to give its verdict on the additional charge framed against the three common accused in the Shakti Mills gangrape cases on Thursday. The three accused are being tried on the additional charge of ‘repeat offender’ covered under section 376E (punishment for repeated offence of rape) of IPC. If found guilty under this section, the three could face the maximum penalty of capital punishment.
On Wednesday, three witnesses recalled by the defence were examined and cross-examined by the lawyers. “The deposition of three witnesses who were recalled on Tuesday was completed on Wednesday. The court will hear the final arguments tomorrow after which the order will be pronounced and it will be followed with arguments on quantum of sentence,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the media.
On March 20, 2014, the sessions court convicted five men — Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Sheikh alias Bengali, Salim Ansari, Mohammad Ashfak Shaikh and Siraj Sheikh — for the two gang rapes that occurred at Shakti Mills in 2013 involving a telephone operator and a photojournalist. Of the five, three — Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari — were involved in both cases.
Mr. Nikam had moved an application on March 21 seeking enhancement of their sentence with an additional charge under Section 376E 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 gang rape case on the suggestions made by the Justice Verma Committee.
On March 24, the three convicts moved the Bombay High Court against this move. But the High Court refused to intervene at this stage and sent the case back to the trial court. The High Court however had given six weeks to the Attorney-General to submit his reply on the constitutional validity of section 376E.