Mumbai: A sessions court today adjourned the hearing in the photo journalist case at 4 pm after the defence sought to move the Bombay High Court challenging the framing of fresh charge against three common convicts for repeated offence.
The additional charge was framed yesterday under 376 (e) of IPC after the sessions court accepted the prosecution's application in this regard.
Defence lawyer Prakash Falsingikar told Principal Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi today he will be filing an application on behalf of his clients and mentioning it before High Court by 3 pm against the framing of the new charge.
Shakti Mills gangrape accused, from left to right: Chand Sattar Sheikh, Vijay Jadhav, Salim Ansari, Kasim Shaikh alias Bengali, Siraj Khan
Earlier, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam today examined the investigation officer in the telephone operator gangrape case and one of the police constables to prove the charges of repeated offence, which was introduced after the December 16 Delhi gangrape case.
The three men--Kasim Bengali, Vijay Jadhav and Mohammed Salim Ansari --have already been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in the case related to gangrape of an 18-year-old telephone operator-- which had taken place in the desolate Shakti Mills compound about a month before the photo journalist's gangrape last year.
According to prosecution, this qualifies them for punishment under the amended section.
Yesterday, the three common convicts while pleading not guilty had refused to sign the copy of the charge document, stating that they were yet to go through the judgement in the telephone operator's case. Also, during the proceedings, the court had rejected the defence plea to stay the trial when defence lawyer said that they want to move the HC, challenging the order to frame additional charges based on the application filed by Nikam. The court, however, had said that the accused can challenge the order even during the further trial.
Nikam had moved the court for additional charge after the verdict in the telephone operator case on March 21.
As per the amendment, a repeat offence under the section 376 attracts either life sentence, or death penalty. He had argued that as per the amendment, there is a distinction between the first offence of rape and any subsequent offence under the section.
"The enhancement of sentence shows the possible intention of Legislature to deter the repeat offenders and stop other like-minded persons," he had said.
The 22-year-old magazine photo journalist was gangraped by Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari, Siraj Rehman and a minor boy when she had gone to the Mills compound in the Central Mumbai with a male colleague on an assignment on August 22, 2013.