The Mahalaxmi gang-rape will be the first major case to test the effectiveness of the new anti-rape law, which provides for the guilty in a gang-rape case to be kept in jail throughout their lives without any scope for their sentences to be pardoned.
Much will depend on the swiftness of the Mumbai police in arresting all the accused and preparing the charge sheet at the earliest, as the new law has laid down guidelines for trials to be completed within two months.
The Criminal laws (Amendment) Act, which was enforced in April following the nationwide outrage over the December 16 Delhi gangrape, also provides for 10 years’ imprisonment for those who take photographs or prepare a film of engaged in private acts with women without their consent.
While Parliament was united and prompt in making changes in criminal laws to check sexual violence against women, the photojournalist’s gangrape has once again brought the failure of law enforcement agencies to the forefront.
Faced with growing outrage over the incident and armed with stringent provisions in the new anti-rape law, the Centre has already directed the Maharashtra government to book the accused in accordance with the updated provisions dealing with the offence of gang rape.