"The incidents of this type are on rise and must meet with severe sentence. Such persons must be dealt with iron-hand and ought to be given sentence of death," the Nagpur bench of the court said while dismissing the criminal appeal filed by Buldhana-based accused Vitthal Chopade.
The bench comprising Justices Pratap Hardas and Arun Choudhary recently upheld the Khamgaon (Buldhana district) sessions court order of awarding life imprisonment to the accused for stabbing and killing Nitin Joshi, who protested lewd remarks made by the accused.
According to prosecution, in 2004 when Nitin had come to pick up her sister from an examination centre at Kherda in Buldhana, Chopade passed some vulgar comments on the girl. When Nitin protested, the accused stabbed him with a knife in his abdomen. Nitin succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital.
During hearing, Chopade's counsel defended him saying that apart from the girl and her friend, none of the other 400-500 witnesses came up to depose against him. But the court turned it down asserting that quality and not quantity of testimony matters. "Since all the testimonies have been corroborated by medical examination and cross-examinations, the quality is indeed high," the court said.
"The appellant committed the offence with cruelty and with preparation by already having a big knife with him. He had no reason to have such a big knife in his waist. He wanted to terrorise the girl and the entire family towards his nefarious design," the court observed before upholding life sentence awarded to the accused.
Meanwhile, Delhi today turned into a fortress a a day after violent protests rocked India Gate which was kept out of bounds for people but protests continued in the city which witnessed traffic mess hassling office goers, students and others.
As the outrage continued over the December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old student, police said charge sheet will be filed "within a week" in the case even as two Assistant Commissioners of Police were suspended and explanations sought from two DCPs on why the crime could not be prevented.
Police clampdown in Delhi leads to chaos:
Security personnel kept Rajpath, the stretch linking India Gate and Raisina Hill leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan, locked down with barricades and heavy deployment of personnel with riot-gear besides disallowing traffic on Rajpath and closing down nine Delhi Metro stations. It was chaos on roads as police restricted vehicular movement around India Gate leading to huge traffic jams in central Delhi, including near ITO, Mathura Road and roads leading to the VIP areas.
At Jantar Mantar, a number of protesters gathered to demand speedy punishment for the criminals involved in the gangrape but no violence was reported. Today's protests appeared muted as police did not allow anybody to reach near India Gate or Raisina Hill, which saw pitched battles between security forces and protesters yesterday leaving around 150 injured from both sides.
LG back in Delhi, Suspends ACPs:
Cutting short his visit to the US, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna returned to the capital and held discussions with senior police officials and women's groups to chalk out a plan for improving safety of women in the capital. "We have suspended two ACPs Mohan Singh Dabas (Traffic) and Yagram (PCR). I have instructed the Police Commissioner to seek explanation from DCPs Premnath (Traffic) and Satbir Kataria (PCR) and will decide on further action after that," he told reporters.
Victim still critical:
On the otherhand, the condition of the victim has deteriorated and she remained in a critical condition at Safdarjung Hospital, doctors said. "She is still in a critical condition and not out of danger," doctors said.
Verma panel on new laws:
The three-member committee of jurists, constituted to give recommendations on amending laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in sexual assault cases, began its work today by issuing notice seeking public comments on the issue by January 5.
The committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J S Verma sought comments from the public in general, particularly eminent jurists, legal professionals, NGOs, women's groups and civil society members on reviewing the existing laws in a bid to provide quicker justice and stringent punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.
The comments can be sent at email ID - firstname.lastname@example.org or through FAX at 011-23092675.
The committee, which was constituted after public protests erupted over the Delhi gangrape case, will look into possible amendments to the criminal law for faster trial and proper punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women.
The other members of the committee, constituted by the government, are Justice (retd) Leila Seth, former Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, and Gopal Subramanian, former Solicitor General of India. The panel has been given 30 days to give its report to the government.
Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is a life term but the nation-wide outrage over the gangrape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus last Sunday night has sparked a demand for death penalty for rape convicts. BJP has also favoured death for perpetrators of such crimes and demanded a special session of Parliament for amending the laws.
BJP to meet President:
Slamming the government for turning down its suggestions of convening a special Parliament session and an all-party meet in the wake of protests on gangrape incident, BJP today said it will raise the issue of crimes aganst women with President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow (Dec 25).
The principal opposition held a meeting of its Core Group and general secretaries here today to discuss the "government's attitude" in the wake of the gangrape of a 23-year old woman in Delhi and the huge protests which have followed the incident and decided that its delegation will meet the President. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said it is regrettable that government "does not want to talk" to the Opposition or the protesters. She condemned the police action against the students who were agitating on the issue.
"Since the government has refused to call a special session of Parliament to pass stringent laws to punish those committing crimes against women and also to hold an all-party meeting, we have sought time from President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow to discuss the issue," she said.
The BJP leader lamented that police used tear gas and batons against the protesters, including women. "Yesterday women were lathicharged ruthlessly by male police personnel. 80 student protesters were admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital," Swaraj said. She said that the agitation has spread across the country. "If government does not take action, public anger will increase further. Everyday the newspapers are full of crimes against women. This is accumulated anger," Swaraj said.
(With PTI inputs)