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Court grants Life imprisonment for all 4 convicts of Shakti Mills

Ujjwal-NikamA sessions court on Friday pronounced life imprisonment for all four convicts in the telephone operator gang-rape case.

While sentencing the four convicts, the court observed that the offence of rape was serious and brutal.

“The offence violates the victim and the society at large. This is also the violation of the fundamental right of Right to Life and it should be kept in mind coupled with the fact that the offence of rape has caused agony on her mind,” observed Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.

The court also held that the convicts – Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Qasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Ansari (28) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh (26) – did not commit the offence on the spur of the moment but it was a premeditated conspiracy.

After the court pronounced the quantum of punishment to the four, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam filed an application seeking framing of additional charges on the three common convicts in the photojournalist gang-rape case, for repeated offence under Section 376(e) of the IPC.

Nikam said that the maximum penalty under Section 376(e) of IPC is capital punishment.

The court adjourned the photojournalist gang-rape case till March 24 to decide on the application after which it will proceed with the pronouncing of quantum of punishment.

On Thursday, the court found five people guilty of two gang-rape cases in July-August last year in the Shakti Mills Complex.

Home Minister RR Patil, who was present in the sessions court hearing on Thursday, had hailed the verdict and called it as the ‘Nirbhaya’ case of Mumbai, referring to the December 2012 brutal gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi.

“The judgement has been delivered in a record time. Mumbai prides itself in being a city safe for women. This verdict will be a deterrent (to sex offenders)… We welcome the verdict,” Patil had told after the ruling.

Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bengali, Mohammed Salim Ansari were found guilty in both the cases.

Besides, a fourth accused, Siraj Khan, 21, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the photojournalist and Ashfaque Sheikh, 26, was found guilty in the gang-rape of the call centre employee.

At least one minor involved in both cases is being tried separately by a juvenile court.

The first case pertains to a 23-year old photojournalist who was working as a trainee with an English magazine and was gang-raped by five youths, including a minor, when she and a male colleague had gone to the Shakti mills compound for an assignment.

The second case about a 19-year old call centre employee, who was gang-raped in the same premises July 31, came to light after she recognised the perpetrators of the crime from the pictures flashed by the police in the photojournalist’s case.

The accused were found guilty under Sections 376 (D) for gang-rape and other sections pertaining to wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation, conspiracy, common intention, unnatural sex, and sections of the Information Technology Act as the attackers had also made a video clip of the incident.

Putting forth arguments on the point of sentencing yesterday, Nikam had told the court that maximum punishment provided for gang-rape under Indian Penal Code is life imprisonment and sought the maximum punishment for the accused.

“These accused have a criminal tendency,” he had said.

“The cases were tried in fastest possible time and victims have got justice….Hope this verdict will act as a deterrent,” he said.

Nikam had also said that the trial of the two juveniles will begin now as the verdict in the case is out.

Maharashtra ATS chief Himanshu Roy, who had spearheaded the investigation as the crime branch chief, had also welcomed the conviction of the five persons.

Roy had said that the telephone operator case was the most difficult as the victim had approached the police after a month of the incident.

“It became difficult as the case was reported a month later. However, since the Mills compound was deserted we found our evidence intact. If the location would have been a frequented place, then the case would have become worse,” he said.

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