Mumbai, Nov 25: The Bombay High Court on Thursday commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty awarded to three convicts in the 2013 gangrape case of a 22-year-old photojournalist inside the defunct Shakti Mills compound in central Mumbai, saying that they "deserve imprisonment for life to repent the offence committed by them as death puts an end to the concept of repentance".

A division bench of Justices Sadhana Jadhav and Prithviraj Chavan refused to confirm the death penalty awarded to Vijay Jadhav, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh and Mohammad Ansari, and commuted their sentence to life imprisonment for the remainder of their lives.

It, however, said that the convicts shall not be entitled for release on furlough or parole as they cannot be allowed to assimilate in the society and as there is no scope for reformation.

At the time of the incident in 2013, Jadhav was 19 years old, Qasim Shaikh was 21 and Ansari was 28.

The bench, while pronouncing its order said that it cannot ignore the fact that the offence has shocked the collective conscience of the society and rape is a violation of human rights, but the sentence of death is irrevocable.

"A rape victim suffers not just physically but mentally as well. It is a violation of human rights. But only public outcry cannot be taken into account. Judgment should not be guided by public outcry or public opinion," the court said.

It added that courts have a duty to consider cases dispassionately and cannot ignore the procedure laid down by the law.

"Death puts an end to the concept of repentance. It cannot be said that the accused deserved only death penalty. They deserve imprisonment for life to repent the offence committed by them," the bench said.

"The convicts deserve life imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life. They cannot assimilate in society as they look upon women as an object," the court said.

Quoting poet Khalil Gibran in the judgement, the high court said, "And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds? Is not remorse the justice which is administered by that very law which you would fain serve? Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent nor lift it from the heart of the guilty."

Advocate Yug Chaudhry, appearing for the convicts, had argued that the death sentence had been handed out incorrectly and that the trial had not been conducted fairly.

The state government had argued that the death penalty was justified as it was a deterrent order.

In March 2104, the trial court had convicted four persons for gangraping a 22-year-old photo-journalist inside the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in central Mumbai on August 22, 2013.

The court had then imposed death penalty on three of the convicts - Jadhav , Bengali and Ansari - as they were also convicted for gang-raping a 19-year-old telephone operator at the same place months before raping the photojournalist.

The trio was awarded death penalty under the amended section 376 (e) of the IPC, which says maximum sentence of life or death can be awarded to repeat offenders.

The fourth convict, Siraj Khan, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and a minor accused was sent to a correctional facility.

In April 2014, the trio had approached the high court challenging the validity of section 376 (e) of IPC and contended that the sessions court acted beyond its power in awarding them the death penalty.

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Bengaluru, Nov 30: Amid growing concerns over Omicron, the new variant of coronavirus, the Karnataka government on Tuesday said international travellers arriving in the state will have to mandatorily undergo RT-PCR test and be in seven days home quarantine.

Health Minister K Sudhakar said that about 2,500 international passengers arrive in the state every day and it is now mandatory for everyone to undergo RT-PCR testing.

"Mandatory RT-PCR test is being carried out for travelers from countries where the new virus is found. The Chief Minister has instructed us to test travelers from all countries," he said after meeting with the Technical Advisory Committee.

"About 2,500 passengers come to the state every day from various nations. Those who are negative will be home quarantined for seven days. Those who are symptomatic and negative will have to undergo testing at home on the fifth day. Those who are asymptomatic will be tested on the seventh day. If positive, they will be immediately hospitalized and treated separately," he said.

Noting that the Omicron variant has been found in 12 countries across the world, the Minister said all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to prevent it affecting people in the state.

"Considering our population and health infrastructure, we need to be more careful than other countries. Preparations for the health care services, including availability of beds, oxygen beds, deployment of doctors and personnel, supply of medicine were also discussed at the meeting," he said.

Sudhakar said those who have not got vaccinated should voluntarily come forward, get the shots and stay safe.

Suggestions on vaccine drive and measures to increase the numbers were discussed at the meeting, he said, adding that 41 lakh people are slated to get the second dose of Covid vaccine and efforts will be made to reach out to them.

"At the meeting, ways to effectively deal with the Omicron virus, how to control it and what preparations are to be taken in hospitals and medical colleges were also discussed," he said. Using technology such as Quarantine App, Tele Medicine are also being considered and a panel of 10 experts has been set up to formulate separate guidelines for treatment, Sudhakar said.

According to a release from the Minister's office, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will write a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to impose restrictions on travelers from specific countries where Omicron infections have been reported.