The matter then came up before the court in December 2014 and now, after four years, it had come up before the HC.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Friday came down heavily on the state government for not expediting the hearing on the confirmation of death sentence awarded to the convicts in the Shakti Mills gang rape case of April 2014.
A sessions court in April 2014 convicted Vijay Jadhav (19), Mohammad Kasim Bengali (21), Mohammad Salim Ansari (28)and Siraj Khan for raping a photojournalist in Shakti Mills on August 22, 2013.
Jadhav, Bengali and Ansari were sentenced to death as earlier too, they were convicted for the gang rape of another girl in July 2013. Siraj was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Under the newly enacted section 376 (e) of the Indian Penal Code, a repeat offence of rape is punishable with death. The death sentence of the three is yet to be ratified by the high court.
On Friday, a bench of Justices A.S. Oka and A.S. Gadkari noted that in June 2014, the state had filed a plea before the HC to confirm the death penalty. The matter then came up before the court in December 2014 and now, after four years, it had come up before the HC.
The court further said. “These are important matters and we don't know what to say if the state shows such insensitivity in such crucial matters. Isn't it your duty to seek early and timely hearings in matters like these?”
The hearing on the confirmation was initially listed for January 3 this year, but got delayed on account of three writ petitions filed by the convicts, challenging the constitutional validity of the provision under which death sentence was awarded to them.
On January 3, the bench led by Justice Oka directed the state government to clarify with the Chief Justice if the writ petitions and the confirmation pleas should be heard together.
Chief Justice Naresh Patil ruled that the writ petitions should be heard and decided upon first, thus, further delaying the hearing on the confirmation plea.
However, the bench led by Justice Oka Friday said that it was the state's duty to point out before the Chief Justice that such order would delay the confirmation hearing which needed to be expedited.
The court has now directed the state to go back to the Chief Justice’s court and seek that the writ petitions and confirmation pleas be placed together to be heard by a common bench to prevent any further delay.