The 19-year-old telephone operator, who was gangraped inside the Shakti Mills compound in Mahalaxmi on July 31, 2013, deposed before the Juvenile Justice Board on Thursday.
During the deposition that lasted around 45 minutes, the victim was asked to recount the incident along with the mandatory procedure of identifying the juvenile delinquent. This was perhaps her last court visit in connection with gangrape trial, board officials said.
“She identified the alleged offender and also supported the prosecution’s case,” confirmed a senior official at the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
Last month, the sessions court had handed out life imprisonment to four other persons – Vijay Jadhav (18), Mohammad Qasim Shaikh (20), Salim Ansari (27) and Ashfaque Shaikh (25) – for sexually assaulting the teenager. The sentence will extend till the remainder of their natural lives.
The JJB proceedings were delayed as the trial at the sessions court was conducted on a daily basis and all the documents pertaining to the case were with the sessions court.
The victim was the first witness to be examined in the case. The delinquent, a 16-year-old boy, who is accused of participating in the crime along with four others, faces the charges of gangrape and criminal intimidation. However, as per the Juvenile Justice Act, he might undergo three-year imprisonment in a correctional home, the maximum tenure prescribed under the JJ Act, if found guilty.
In December, last year, the victim, along with a 23-year-old photojournalist (also gangraped inside the Shakti Mills compound) had written to the Bombay High Court, state Law and Judiciary department and the Women and Child Development department, seeking an amendment to the existing law which calls for separate trials to be conducted against adults and juveniles. The victims had sought exemption from appearing before the JJB, after deposing before the sessions court, that they felt was “harrowing.” However, in the absence of any such provision under law, the exemption could not be granted.
According to sources, when the telephone operator appeared before the JJB, special care was taken to ensure that she was comfortable at the time of her deposition. “The deposition lasted for nearly 45 minutes. A shield was put up between the victim and the juvenile delinquent,” said a senior officer from the JJB.
The victim had to, however, look at the delinquent once in order to identify him. “She was a little uncomfortable then, but she immediately composed herself,” the officer added.
After the telephone operator, the photojournalist will depose before the JJB. In her case, the sessions court has already awarded death penalty to three convicts and life sentence to one. Another 16-year-old juvenile had also allegedly participated in the photojournalist’s gangrape on August 22, 2013.