A Sessions Court on Wednesday convicted six persons, including founder Director of a privately-run orphanage, in a case of rape of five mentally-challenged female inmates, three of whom were minors.
One of the victims who was suffering from Tuberculosis died after she was gang raped. Hence, prime accused and Director of orphanage Ramchandra Karanjule faced additional murder charge and was convicted on this count.
Four other accused, however, were acquitted due to lack of evidence against them.
The court would pronounce the quantum of sentence to be awarded to the six convicts on Thursday.
The offence was committed at the Orphanage, located in Kalamboli area in Navi Mumbai and run by a private organisation, Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha.
The prosecution's case was that 19 victims were gang-raped by three accused, while the rest were tried for other offences against juveniles. Statements of 19 victims were recorded by a Magistrate and among them three had come before the court to testify against the accused.
Of the three girls who testified in the court, one was mentally-challenged, while two were deaf and dumb who identified the main accused by signs.
54-year-old Ramchandra Karanjule, founder-Director of the orphanage, was convicted on charges of rape, murder and gang-rape.
Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian pressed death sentence for Karanjule, also a former railway employee, saying he had committed a heinous crime and it was the rarest of the rare case.
However, defence lawyers VD More and SS Naik pleaded for leniency contending that the object of IPC was to reform the offenders and hence minimum punishment of life sentence should be awarded to Karanjule. They opposed the capital punishment.