In a welcome verdict, the Bombay High Court Monday upheld the Constitutional validity of an amended section of the Indian Penal Code under which repeat offenders in rape cases can be awarded life imprisonment or death penalty. A division bench of Justices B P Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite Dere dismissed petitions filed by three convicts in the Shakti Mill gangrape case challenging the constitutional validity of the legal provisions under which they were sentenced to death in 2014.
Under an amendment to Section 376 (e) of the IPC, repeat offenders in rape cases faced life imprisonment or death penalty. The amendment was made after the gangrape of a 23- year-old woman in Delhi in 2012. ‘We are of the opinion that Section 376 (e) of the IPC is not ultra vires to the Constitution and hence need not be quashed in the present case,’ the court said.
The petition was filed by Vijay Jadhav, Mohammed Kasim and Mohammed Salim Ansari — all sentenced to death by a sessions court in 2014 for raping a journalist in 2013. The three were also convicted for raping a call centre employee. The trials for both the crimes were held simultaneously. The trial court proceeded to pronounce the punishment in the call centre employee case and, subsequently, allowed a prosecution plea to charge the convicts under Section 376 (e). With crimes again women and even girl children on the rise, only strict punishments can bring them down. Hence, the latest verdict of the Bombay High Court is a much needed one.