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Bombay HC commutes death punishment to life for 3 in Shakti Mills gang-rape case

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 The Bombay High Court on Thursday commuted to rigorous life imprisonment the death sentences awarded to three repeat offenders, who were convicted for the brutal gang-rape of a photo-journalist in the Shakti Mills Compound in 2013.

A division bench of Justice S.S. Jadhav and Justice P.K. Chavan, while upholding the conviction, commuted the trial court’s 2014 order of Principal Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, giving the death penalty to the accused trio — Qasim Shaikh ‘Bengali’, 21, Salim Ansari, 28 and Vijay Jadhav, 19.

The verdict came in appeals filed by the three convicts, who — along with one Siraj Rehman Khan and an unidentified minor — were tried for the August 22, 2013 gang-rape which shook the nation.

The judges ruled that the Constitutional court cannot award punishment based on public opinion and though it may be contrary to the majority view, the court followed the procedure.

The three convicts — who became the first in the country to be awarded under the amended Indian Penal Code Section 376 (E) providing for life term in jail or death for rape cases or repeat offenders, in the wake of the Delhi Nirbhaya gang-rape case of December 2012 — shall not be entitled to furlough or parole while serving their rigorous imprisonment for life.

The incident took place late that evening when the young woman photo-journalist, along with a male colleague, was on an assignment to the defunct Shakti Mills Compound.

There, they were waylaid for the four young men and a minor boy, sparking a nationwide outrage, and the Mumbai Police managed to arrest all the accused within a week.

Subsequently, another victim, a 19-year old telephone operator also approached the police a month later to complain against the same five youngsters at the same venue on July 31, 2013, three weeks before the second incident.

Both the victim women identified the accused, and the two cases were heard simultaneously and in March 2014, the Sessions Court Principal Judge Phansalkar-Joshi found the four adults guilty in each case, while two minors were tried by the Juvenile Justice Board.

Subsequently, the prosecution sought permission to invoke the IPC Section 376(E) against the convicts which was allowed, the court sentenced the trio of Shaikh, Ansari and Jadhav to death as it was “the rarest of rare cases”, while one was awarded a life sentence.

In the Bombay High Court, the public prosecutor Deepak Salvi, along with Sanil Salvi argued for the highest punishment since it was the ‘rarest of rare cases’ as their acts amounted to devastation of social trust, led to a fear psychosis due to the brutal, barbaric and diabolical nature of the crime, all the accused threatening to kill the victim, committing the violence brutal sexual assault involving anal and oral sex.

The Amicus Curiae, advocate Yug M. Choudhary, assisted by lawyer Payoshi Roy — appointed for the accused — argued against the death sentence saying the accused were not given any opportunity to defend or reform themselves.

He explained how the accused were never exposed to any correctional influence, their socio-economic circumstance, no schooling, were used to a life of abject violence and did not deserve the death penalty especially when the maximum punishment for the offence was 20 years.

Crime

Police says no evidence traceable in rape case against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik; files ‘a summary’ report to HC

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 The Navi Mumbai police on Friday informed the Bombay High Court it has not traced any evidence in the rape case lodged against Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ganesh Naik and have submitted an ‘A Summary’ report to the local court.

An ‘A Summary’ report is filed in a case where the offence is made out but the evidence is not traceable or the accused persons are not found.

In April this year, a 42-year-old woman registered a case against Naik alleging he had raped and threatened her.

According to the complaint, the woman and Naik were in a live-in relationship since 1995 and they also have a child together.

Naik had, in May, approached HC seeking pre-arrest bail. He was granted interim bail at the time.

On Friday, when his plea came up for hearing before a division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and R N Laddha, additional government pleader Prajakta Shinde said the police has submitted an ‘A Summary’ report in the case in September this year.

Naik’s counsel Ashok Mundargi sought the bench to direct the local court to dispose of the matter expeditiously.

“The case has a political angle to it and in such cases the matter is kept deliberately pending. After the police submitted its report, the court issued notice to the complainant and since then the matter is pending,” Mundargi said.

The bench then directed the magistrate’s court to dispose of the case within three months. The 42 year old woman claimed in her complaint she was in a live-in relationship with Naik since 1995. They met in a club in 1993, where she was a receptionist, and fell in love.

The FIR also pointed out they had a sexual relationship and have a child. The woman alleged Naik was not treating her well and was avoiding her calls.

There were constant quarrels as well, and during one such incident Naik allegedly threatened her with a gun, as per the complaint. After this incident, she proceeded to file a complaint and an FIR was registered.

Naik had contended that for an incident which happened in 1995, the allegations were made in 2022, which was belated. He also pointed out the case was being backed by his political rivals for revenge against him.

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Crime

Shraddha murder case: Aaftab’s post-narco test concludes

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The post-narco test of Aaftab Amin Poonawalla, the accused in the ghastly murder of his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar in Delhi’s Mehrauli area, concluded on Friday. His test was conducted inside the Tihar prison by the FSL officials.

As per sources, the team from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini had reached Tihar jail for the post-narco test at around 11.30 a.m.

“A four-member team had reached Tihar Jail No.-4 on Friday along with the investigating officer for a post-narco analysis session of Aaftab,” said a senior FSL official.

“The test started around 12. He was again asked similar questions and his answers will be matched with the questions from the previous narco analysis session,” said the sources.

If needed, the narco test will be done again, claimed the sources.

Further details were awaited.

Meanwhile, the prison authorities have also increased the security of his barrack after the police van was attacked by men, who were armed with swords.

Though his confessions in the narco test cannot be used in the court, yet it proved that the investigators were proceeding in the right direction.

Pertinent to mention here that the findings of both polygraph and narco test are not admissible in the court. These tests will only help the Delhi Police gather evidence, and thereby increase the possibility of prosecution of the guilty.

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Crime

Shraddha murder case: Narco test process begins on Aaftab

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The process of Narco test on Aaftab Amin Poonawalla, who is an accused in the ghastly murder of his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar in Delhi’s Mehrauli area, began on Thursday morning, said Special Commissioner of Police (law & order), Sagar Preet Hooda.

According to sources, Aaftab was taken to the Ambedkar Hospital from Tihar at around 9 a.m.

Further details were awaited.

The polygraph test of Aaftab ended on Tuesday at the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Rohini.

According to a senior FSL official, Aaftab’s polygraph test is now complete and a detailed report will be shared in a day or two with the Delhi Police.

The sources said that a polygraph and a narco test is imperative in this case, as Aaftab, during interrogation, was deceptive in nature and tried to mislead the interrogators.

Shraddha and Aaftab had met through the dating app ‘Bumble’ in 2018. They had come to Delhi on May 8 and shifted to the Chattarpur area on May 15. On May 18, Aaftab allegedly killed Shraddha and then chopped her body into 35 pieces and threw the body parts across various places over a period of 18 days.

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