Trial begins, accused plead not guilty
The trial in the August 22 Shakti Mills gangrape case formally began on Friday, with the sessions court framing charges against four of the five people accused of raping a 22-year-old photojournalist in the abandoned mill compound in Mahalaxmi.
The trial against the fifth accused, who is a juvenile, is yet to begin before the Juvenile Justice Board.
The accused — Vijay Jadhav (18), Siraj Khan (24), Mohammad Kasim Shaikh (20), Mohammad Salim Ansari (27) and the juvenile — had allegedly taken turns in
raping the victim.
In addition to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections mentioned in the draft of charges on Thursday, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on Friday also sought to apply section 67 of the Information Technology Act since two of the four accused had allegedly shown the victim pornographic clips on two mobile phones and forced her to enact them.
The draft charges submitted Thursday consisted of several IPC sections for gangrape, unnatural offences, criminal intimidation, conspiracy, destruction of
evidence and illegal confinement.
The defence objected to the application of the criminal conspiracy charge, but the court rejected their contention. "The accused did not know the victim. The prosecution's case is not that the accused got the victim from her office or her residence and raped her as per the plan," argued one of the defence lawyers.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the court
accepted all 13 charges suggested by the prosecution.
Principal Judge of Sessions court Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, who was presiding over the hearing, later read out the charges to the accused, who denied all of them.
The court will conduct the trial on day-to-day basis, said Nikam.
Another case of a 19- year old telephone operator being allegedly gangraped inside Shakti Mills on July 31 has also been assigned to the same court. However, Nikam said the trial in this case would be carried out separately.