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2013 Shakti Mills Gangrape Case: 3 Accused Get Life Imprisonment as Bombay HC Commutes Death Penalty

The Bombay High Court on Thursday set aside the death penalty awarded to three accused in the 2013 Shakti Mills gangrape case and sent them to life imprisonment, over seven years after a trial court in Mumbai sentenced the men — including an 18-year-old — to death by hanging.

A 22-year-old photo-journalist had complained of gang-rape in August 2013, at the defunct mill compound by five persons, including a minor. A 19-year-old telephone operator too registered a crime, alleging gang rape at the same compound. The accused were mostly the same.

In April 2014, a sessions court in Mumbai held five persons guilty in the 2013 case, which had caused a national outrage. One of them, Siraj Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment, while a second accused, a minor, was sent to a correctional facility.

Jadhav, Bengali, and Ansari were sentenced to death under the then newly introduced section 376 (E) of the IPC since the three had also been convicted in a previous case of gang-rape. The three, however, moved the HC soon after their conviction, challenging the constitutional validity of the law under which they were sentenced to death for a repeat offence.

The convicts, Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Salim Ansari, represented by senior counsel Yug Chaudhry, had argued that the death sentence awarded to them was wrong in law since there existed an “enormous difference between the harm caused” by them and “the punishment” mated out to them.

The trio, through their lawyer, had told the high court the death sentence violated their fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“Life imprisonment is rule and death penalty is exception. Have to be decided dispassionately. Such incident shows conscience but procedure cannot be ignored,” the court said while handing over the lifer.

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