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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Shakti Mills gang rape case:‘Law amended, punishment enhanced to prevent rape’

In view of the increasing number of crimes against women, punishment for gang rape and repeat rape offenders was enhanced to act as a deterrent

mumbai Updated: Feb 27, 2019 22:36 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
22-year-old photojournalist was gangraped inside Shakti Mills in Mahalaxmi in 2013
22-year-old photojournalist was gangraped inside Shakti Mills in Mahalaxmi in 2013(HT Photo)
         

The central government on Wednesday told the Bombay high court (HC) the rape law was amended in 2013 and punishment was enhanced in order to prevent the crime.

“The state and society have the responsibility to not just punish criminals, but also prevent crimes,” additional solicitor general Anil Singh argued, in response to a petition filed by three convicts sentenced to death in the Shakti Mill gang rape case.

The three accused – Vijay Jadhav, Mohammed Kasim Shaikh, Mohammed Salim Ansari – gang raped a 23-year-old photojournalist on August 22, 2013 in the defunct Shakti Mills compound at Lower Parel.

On March 20, 2014, a trial court convicted all three accused and they were later sentenced to death under the newly-introduced Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The trio has now challenged the constitutional validity of Section 376E that prescribes life imprisonment – imprisonment till death of the convict – or death sentence for repeat rape offenders.

Singh said penal sections pertaining to rape were amended in 2013 after the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case in Delhi. In view of the increasing number of crimes against women, punishment for gang rape and repeat rape offenders was enhanced to act as a deterrent.

On Wednesday, Singh responded to the petitioner’s argument that the punishment of imprisonment till death of the convict was not recognised by the law in India.

The additional solicitor general said the punishment of life imprisonment has been in India for long, and life imprisonment in itself means imprisonment for remainder term of the convict – imprisonment till his death.

Section 376E, thus, does not prescribe any new punishment, but merely clarifies the meaning of the term, Singh said. In support of his argument, he also cited the number of Supreme Court rulings to the effect that life imprisonment means imprisonment till death of the convict.

Further police investigations in the Shakti Mills case have also revealed that the trio gang raped an 18-year-old call centre employee on July 31, 2013, at the same place.

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 22:36 IST