Mumbai: In a significant judgement, the Bombay High Court upheld Monday the constitutional validity of a provision introduced after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case allowing life imprisonment or death penalty to repeat offenders in rape cases.
A bench of justices BP Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite Dere dismissed the petitions filed by three convicts in the sensational 2013 Shakti Mill gangrape case challenging the constitutional validity of 376 (e) provision of Indian Penal Code provision under which they were sentenced to death for the repeat offence by a sessions court in 2014 in what was the first such conviction under the changed law.
The trio was convicted for gangraping a 22-year-old photo-journalist inside the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in central Mumbai on August 22, 2013 and for gangraping an 18-year-old telephone operator at the same place some months earlier.
“We are of the opinion that section 376 (e) of the IPC is not ultra vires to the Constitution and hence need not be quashed in the present case,” the court said.
With dismissal of the petitions, another bench of the High Court will now take up for final hearing appeals filed by the convicts challenging their conviction and death penalty imposed on them by a sessions court and also a petition filed by the state government for confirmation of their sentence.
Under 376 (e) provision which was introduced by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, repeat offenders in rape cases faced life imprisonment or a death penalty.
The petitions had been filed by Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Salim Ansari, who were among the four convicted in April 2014 by a sessions court for gangraping the photo-journalist in August 2013. They were 19, 21, and 28 years old respectively at the time of the incident.
The court had then imposed death penalty on Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari as they were convicted for gangraping the telephone operator at the same place months before raping the photo-journalist.
The fourth convict, Siraj Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and a minor accused was sent to a correctional facility.