The Delhi High Court recently upheld the conviction and sentence awarded to a child rapist, asserting that "child rape is inexcusable" and that "no leniency or mercy can be shown" to the convict.
The Bench comprising Justice S.P. Garg and Justice C. Hari Shankar observed, “Ecclesiastically as well as temporally, child rape is inexcusable. No leniency, or mercy, can be shown to the violator of the body of a child of tender years, who is yet to savour the first fragrance of adolescence. It is for this reason that the statute, too, treated such an offence as one of its.ind, and carved out a separate substantive provision to deal therewith, in clause (f) of Section 376 (2) of the IPC [as it stood prior to its amendment with effect from 3rd February 2013 vide Section 9 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013]. Child rape is the ultimate indicator of the reality, often unnoticed, that rape is an offence less of passion and more of power.”
The Court was hearing an Appeal filed by one Anil Mehto, who had been convicted in March, 2004 by the Additional Sessions Judge for raping and criminally intimidating a 10-year-old girl. The Trial Court had convicted him, opining that the crime committed by him was gruesome, and that “no amount of punishment would be sufficient, as his conduct was inhuman and barbaric”, thereby disentitling him to any mercy. It had thereafter imposed life imprisonment for the crime. Mehto had now challenged his conviction before the High Court.
The Division Bench of the High Court however opined that the testimony of the prosecutrix cannot be discredited, observing, “We can never be unmindful, in a case such as this, of the fact that the prosecutrix was a 10-year-old child, who had been subjected to what would, possibly, be the worst trauma that she would ever have the misfortune to suffer. So long, therefore, as her depositions, under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. and, thereafter, during trial, were consistent in all material particulars, they command credibility and acceptance.”
Besides, the Court noted that the minor girl’s testimony had also been corroborated by the medical evidence examined by the Court. It, therefore, upheld the conviction on the basis of the reasons recorded by the Trial Court.
Thereafter, the Court refused to interfere with the sentence awarded to him as well, opining that having committed a heinous crime like child rape disentitles the perpetrator from any leniency in law. It observed, “Rape, of any kind and on anyone, is an anathema in a civilised society; when perpetrated on a young child, however, it betokens a depravity, in the perpetrator, which is ingrained in his psyche, and which altogether disentitles him from any leniency, in law, or the right to cohabit, in society, with his brother. Law, after all, is an instrument which aims at social order, and aberrant elements, where the aberrations transgress all excusable limits, would inherently be destructive thereof. The perpetration of social order would necessarily require, therefore, the removal of such elements from the societal fabric, if the warp and weft thereof are to remain intact.”
The Court, therefore, dismissed the Appeal, with a minor modification of reducing the default sentence to three months simple imprisonment from a year for both the offences.