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Friday,03-December-2021

Crime

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

Centre clarifies on 3rd wave possibility after Omicron detection

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Omicron cases are increasingly being reported from countries outside of South Africa. India has also reported two cases of Omicron Covid variant and is likely to spread to more countries.

“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” said the Health Ministry on Friday. It added further that the scale and magnitude of rise in cases and most importantly the severity of disease that will be caused is still not clear.

On the question of existing vaccine efficacy against this variant, the health ministry has said that there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved.

“Hence vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease, and vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated,” it added.

The response measures for all variants of concern, including Omicron, is the same as that for SARs CoV2. The ministry has said that the precautions and steps to be taken remain the same as before. “It is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation to the maximum possible”, said the ministry in a statement.

The government is monitoring the situation closely and is issuing suitable guidelines, said the ministry, adding that the scientific and medical community is geared up for developing and deploying diagnostics, carrying out genomic surveillance, generating evidence about viral and epidemiologic characteristics, and development of therapeutics.

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Crime

Trouble looms for Balakrishnan as Mumbai HC to hear son’s DNA case

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The Mumbai High Court has posted for January 4 the case of a DNA test result of Binoy Kodiyeri, the elder son of CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan who was all set to return as Kerala CPI-M state secretary.

A woman from Bihar has alleged that Binoy had a relationship with her while she was working at a dance bar in Dubai in 2008 and till 2015, he used to send her money every month. They also have an eight-year-old child.

The woman had first filed a petition in 2019 and in July 2019 Binoy approached the Mumbai High Court seeking dismissal of the rape case filed by the woman. The court asked all the three to go for a DNA test and Binoy appeared for it on July 30, 2019.

Following which the case went into a limbo. In December 2020 the DNA result was filed before the court in a sealed cover and on Thursday the woman approached the court wanting to know the result. The court has now posted this case for January 4.

Incidentally Balakrishnan who is a cancer patient, was given medical leave by the party soon after his younger son Bineesh Kodiyeri was arrested in October 2020 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

However Balakrishnan breathed easy when Bineesh got bail from the Karnataka High Court after being in a jail in Bengaluru in October this year. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan strongly backed Balakrishnan to return to the post and the green signal was to have come from the state secretariat on Friday, when came the news about Binoy.

The news about Binoy has come at a time when the CPI-M, ahead of the party state conference scheduled for early next year, wanted Balakrishnan to take over. Sources in the know of things say Balakrishnan will be asked to take over after the national leadership of the party last month asked the state leadership to take a call on it.

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Crime

Five dead, one injured in road accident in Gurugram

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 Five people were killed after a car crashed into a roadside wall and overturned on Sadhrana road near Gadhi village here on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

According to police, the deceased have been identified as Sagar, Jibech, Niaz Khan, Prince and Jagbir.

One person, identified as Hardik Tiwari, was injured in the incident.

The victims were returning to Gurugram city from Sadhrana village after attending a marriage.

“All of them were coming from a wedding ceremony in Sadhrana village. The mishap was a result of speeding and a damaged road. All the victims used to work in a city-based private hospital. Police are taking necessary action,” Gurugram police spokesperson Subhash Boken said.

“The injured man has been shifted to a hospital in critical condition. While the bodies have been sent for post-mortem. Further probe is on,” he added.

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