A Special Court on Wednesday awarded death sentence to three men convicted in the rape and brutal murder of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in Kopardi village in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district in 2016. The argument over the point of death sentence was concluded by defence lawyer and special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other political leaders have hailed the court verdict.
The incident took place on July 13, 2016, when a 15-year-old school girl belonging to Maratha community was brutually gang-raped, mutiliated and killed. The accused had inflicted injuries all over her body and broken her limbs before throttling her, police said.
The gruesome crime had triggered protests a year ago by members of the Maratha community, who staged silent marches across the state demanding justice for the victim. Breaking down after hearing the sentence, she said, "I am satisfied with the verdict". On the day of the incident, all the accused were moving on their motorcycles and keeping a watch on the girl's movements, Nikam had said. "When they failed in their attempts to rape her, they hatched a plan for later, which amounts to conspiracy", he said. Reportedly, none of the defense lawyers were there, while special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was present in the court.
On Saturday, three accused of this case have been convicted. "It is the government's responsibility to ensure that higher courts uphold the death punishment of the accused", he said, adding that the government should fast track other cases of atrocities against women.
The three were also fined Rs 20,000 each or three months additional jail for failure to pay up, while Bhawal has been slapped another fine of Rs 18,000 for attempting to delay court proceedings for which his mobile and motorbike would be auctioned and the proceeds deposited in the court, the judge ruled. The convicts were also sentenced to life imprisonment for rape and criminal conspiracy as well as three years' rigorous imprisonment under Section 354-A (sexual harassment). All jail sentences would run concurrently.