In a recent development to Kopardi rape and murder case, the court has convicted all three accused and awarded death sentence, where three men were found guilty of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in Maharashtra's Kopardi village in the year 2016. The court found the accused guilty of conspiring, raping and murdering the victim. The brutal rape and murder of a 15-year-old in Kopardi, about 150 km from Pune, on July 13 last year had led to tension between the Maratha and dalit communities.
October 7 a year ago, the Ahmednagar Police filed the charge sheet running into over 350 pages before the court, in which the trio was charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
After the verdict, the mother of the victim broke down and thanked everyone who helped the case reach its end.
The silent protests in Maharashtra in the past one year forced the government to appoint Ujjwal Nikam as a special public prosecutor and fast-track the case.
"We shall challenge not only the verdict but the entire proceedings before the High Court, the lapses and other issues on which we have already given our written submission to the sessions court", the lawyers for Bhawal, Balasaheb Khopade and Vijayalaxmi Khopade, told IANS. However, when she resisted, two of the accused said that they would "see her later".
It also sent strong political ripples with the opposition Congress and the NCP demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on moral grounds.
The prosecutor said that the three convicts were also given life imprisonment for charges pertaining to rape and criminal conspiracy and they were also fined Rs 20,000 each.
A sessions court in Ahmednagar awarded the death penalty to Jitendra Shinde, Nitin Bhailume and Santosh Bhaval. During the trial, the prosecution examined 31 witnesses and argued there were 24 types of evidence against the three.
The death sentence is subject to confirmation by the Bombay high court. Hailing the judgment, Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said cases involving crime against women should be handled in a sensitive manner so that victims and their families do not undergo mental harassment.