The Bombay High Court will hear the death sentence confirmation petition of three convicts in the Shakti Mills gang-rape case on December 5. The court has refused to club the death confirmation petition with the writ petition filed by the convicts – Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammed Salim Ansari (28) and Kasim Bengali (21), challenging the Constitutional validity of section 376(e) of the Indian Penal Code.
The legal provision provides for a maximum punishment of death sentence for repeat offenders.
“We are not inclined to club the two petitions,” Justices V K Tahilramani and A K Menon said after public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde pleaded for it. The court asked about the main contention of the writ petition filed by the accused, after which it declined to club it.
The government is likely to mention the writ petition filed by the accused, before another division bench of the court next week. But irrespective of when that petition will be heard, the Bombay High Court will now start hearing the death confirmation petition from December 5.
The sessions court had, in April, convicted Jadhav, Ansari and Bengali, along with an accused named Siraj Khan, for the rape of a photo journalist in the deserted premises of Shakti mills in the city in August last year. While Siraj was awarded life imprisonment, the other three accused were given death sentence as they were also convicted for raping a telephone operator in the same premises earlier.
The government had pleaded for death sentence to them as per the amended provision under section 376 (e) of IPS. This is the first time the section has been applied.
After being awarded death sentence, the three accused moved the Bombay High Court and filed a writ petition challenging the Constitutional validity of the relevant section of IPC.