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Four persons were sentenced to prison for the "remainder of their natural lives" on Friday by a sessions court for the gang-rape of a telephone operator that took place at the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in central Mumbai last year.
Principal sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi pronounced the quantum of punishment after arguments by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and the defence lawyers in the courtroom teeming with journalists along with the accused and their family members.
Phansalkar-Joshi pronounced the judgment saying offence of rape is brutal and is a violation of her right to life.
Those sentenced in the telephone operator case are Vijay Jadhav, 19, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh, 21, Mohammad Ansari, 28 and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh, 26.
The quantum of punishment was decided by the court after arguments by the defence and prosecution that went on for an hour.
The argument on the sentencing of convicts in the photojournalist case will take place on Monday, as the prosecution wanted section 376(E) (for repeat offenders in cases on gang-rape) which involves maximum punishment of death against them.
According to the section 376(E) of the Indian Penal Code, whoever has been previously convicted of an offence punishable under section 376 or section 376A or section 376D and is subsequently convicted of an offence punishable under any of the said sections shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, or with death.
Nikam argued the convicts were demons in the form of humans and they cannot be reformed, while asking for maximum punishment.
The defence told the court convicts were victims of the system and the doors of reformation should not be closed on them by sentencing them for the rest of their lives.
When asked by media if the prosecution will ask for death sentences for convicts in the photojournalist case, Nikam said, "I am yet to apply my mind to it."
The court had on Thursday found Jadhav, Shaikh and Mohammad Ansari guilty in both the gang-rape cases.
In addition to the trio, the court found Siraj Khan guilty in the photojournalist gang-rape case on August 22, and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh, 26, guilty of the telephone operator gang-rape case at the same compound on July 31 last year.
Two minors, one in each case, are being tried under the juvenile justice act separately.
The crime branch that investigated both cases had submitted a 362 page chargesheet in the telephone operator case on October 8 last year, while a 600 page chargesheet was filed in the photojournalist case on September 19.
After the police machinery came in for criticism from several quarters, the state home minister RR Patil had stated that the trial would completed soon.
The trial was conducted on a day-to-day basis in the court presided by Phansalkar-Joshi.