The sessions court hearing the Shakti Mills photojournalist gang-rape case on Monday accepted the prosecution's application and added section 376(E) of the Indian Penal Code against the three men who have also been convicted in another gang-rape case in the same compound.
The trio, Vijay Jadhav, 19, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh, 21 and Mohammad Ansari, 28, were also convicted for gang-raping a telephone operator at the same place last year and were sentenced to prison for the "remainder of their natural lives" last Friday.
The significance of this section, that came into being after the Criminal Amendment Act in 2013, is that the prosecution can also ask for death for the convicts. The section has provision for death sentence for repeat offenders.
Following the sentencing in the telephone operator case, the prosecution had made an application before principal sessions judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi and asked for section 376 (E) to be applied which deals with repeat offenders in 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.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that the date of offence was separate and hence the section applicable in subsequent conviction hold true in this case.
The defence, however, countered that the judgement was simultaneously given hence there is no question of subsequent conviction and thereby the section cannot be added.
The crime branch that investigated both cases 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.