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Shakti Mills gangrape: Prosecution seeks enhanced punishment; 3 common accused may get death

Court frames fresh charges against three common accused in the Shakti Mills photojournalist gangrape case which will mark the three rapists as repeat offenders and allow the prosecution to seek death sentence for the trio

Days after sentencing four men to life term for brutalising a telephone operator in Shakti Mills compound here, a Mumbai court on Monday framed fresh charges against the three common convicts in the 2013 photojournalist gangrape case.

The additional charges were framed under section 376 (e) of the IPC for repeated offence after court accepted the prosecution's application on the count.

However, the three common convicts-- Kasim Bengali, Vijay Jadhav and Mohammed Salim Ansari, while pleading not guilty, refused to sign the copy of the charges, stating that they are yet to go through the judgement in the telephone operator case.

Shakti Mills
Shakti Mills compound seven months after a photojournalist was gangraped in the premises.  

Earlier, Principal Sessions Shalini Phansalkar Joshi rejected the defence plea to stay the trial in the case, which was adjourned till Monday to decide on the prosecution's plea and then proceed on the quantum of punishment.

The defence sought the stay, saying that they wanted to move the Bombay High Court, challenging the application filed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on Friday seeking framing of additional charges, after the sentencing in the teleoperator case.

Nikam had told PTI that the maximum penalty under section 376(e) of IPC is capital punishment. Refusing to grant any stay, the court on Monday said that the accused can challenge the order even when the trial is on.

On March 21, the court awarded life imprisonment to four convicts-- Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Qasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Salim Ansari (28) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh-- in the telephone operator gangrape case observing that showing mercy to them would be a "mockery of justice" and will send out a wrong signal to the society.

The court had also observed that offence of rape was "serious and brutal" and it violates the victim and the society at large. A day before, the court convicted five men for gangrape (of two women), criminal conspiracy, common intention, unnatural sex, criminal intimidation, wrongful restraint, assault and destruction of evidence under IPC and other sections.

While Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Mohammad Salim Ansari were convicted in both the cases, Siraj Khan was found guilty in the photojournalist gangrape case (of August 22, last year) and Mohammad Ashfaque Shaikh in the telephone operator gangrape case at the same compound on July 31 last year.

Two minors, one in each case, are being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board separately. The 18-year-old telephone operator was gangraped by five persons including a minor while the 22-year-old magazine photojournalist was gangraped by five men when she had gone to the Mills compound in Central Mumbai with a male colleague on an assignment.

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