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Rape Convict's Advanced Age & Regular Attendance In Court No Reason For Lesser Sentence Than Minimum Punishment Under Law: Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
20 Aug 2022 2:13 PM GMT
Rape Convicts Advanced Age & Regular Attendance In Court No Reason For Lesser Sentence Than Minimum Punishment Under Law: Bombay High Court
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Man was convicted for rape of his deaf and dumb sister-in-law.

A rape convict's advanced age and regular attendance in court hearings cannot be a reason for a lesser sentence than the minimum punishment under law, the Bombay High Court held while enhancing the prison sentence of a man who raped his deaf and mute sister-in-law in 2005. The brother-in-law raped her while other family members were away and threatened her with harm to her blind...

A rape convict's advanced age and regular attendance in court hearings cannot be a reason for a lesser sentence than the minimum punishment under law, the Bombay High Court held while enhancing the prison sentence of a man who raped his deaf and mute sister-in-law in 2005.

The brother-in-law raped her while other family members were away and threatened her with harm to her blind husband, the convict's brother.

"Once the trial court had come to the conclusion that the prosecution had squarely proved the offence of rape committed by the accused on the victim beyond reasonable doubt, then there is no reason to defer from the statutory provision and award a lesser sentence than what is prescribed by the statute."

A division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav thus enhanced the 58-year-old Nashik resident's jail term from five years to seven years, which was the minimum sentence for rape under section 376(1) of the IPC before the 2018 amendment. The bench further directed him to surrender with immediate effect.

"The appellant has behaved in the most horrific manner and shocked our conscience," the bench observed adding that five years and Rs. 1000 fine for "Ravishing such a handicapped/helpless woman and more specifically when she is alone inside the house," wasn't sufficient punishment.

"It is to be understood that no woman would even otherwise level and take the risk of levelling such a wild charge of ravishing her only on the pretext of partition of the property… Unless and until such an incident had happened or occurred there was no reason for the victim to make such an allegation," the bench added.

The High Court was dealing with three proceedings – criminal appeal filed by the accused against his conviction, appeal by the state to enhance the sentence and a suo motu petition registered by the HC to enhance the accused's sentence.

The man was convicted under sections 376 (rape) and section 503 of the IPC and sentenced to five years in prison with fine of Rs. 1,000 in 2013 for the 2005 incident.

It was the prosecution's case that on November 16, 2005 the accused raped the woman between 9pm-10pm in her marital home while other members of the family, including the accused's wife and in-laws were away. The woman said she tried to inform her father-in-law but instead of paying heed he dropped her off to her mother's house. An FIR was registered only after the victim confided in her mother and the latter approached the police.

Before the High Court, advocate Ashish Satpute argued that the victim has filed a false complaint to implicate the accused at her mother's behest to divide their joint family. He claimed that the accused had gone along with the remaining family members for bhajan-kirtan, there was a three day delay in registering an FIR, the doctor found no injuries on the victim's private parts and the investigator was not examined.

The prosecution submitted that on the day of the incident only the brother-in-law victim and her husband were present in the house. Moreover, medical and circumstantial evidence also pointed towards the guilt of the accused, he argued.

However, the victim testified in the trial court that she had undergone a surgery for the removal of the uterus and was living at her mother's house for 6 months. She has returned to her in-laws place only 15 days before the incident and her husband was sleeping outside since she was supposed to abstain from sex owing to the surgery.

The bench relied on the statements of the victim, her mother and the interpreter through whom the victim deposed. It rejected the defence's claim that a pending partition suit was the reason behind the allegations especially since the suit was filed a year after the incident.

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 301


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