The High Court Bench of Chattisgarh (Bilaspur) has held that "depravity of crime" & "aggravating factors" outweigh reasons for mitigation of death penalty sentence in rarest of rare crimes.
Confirming the death sentence of the accused for rape and murder of the minor girl, a Division Bench of Justices Prashant Kumar Mishra & Gautam Chourdiya emphasized that the manner in which she was raped and murdered by the accused shall invoke the doctrine of "rarest of rare cases".
"The accused has betrayed the trust and confidence of family of the deceased and the members of the locality as well, because he being the resident of same locality, people around might not have suspected the accused Ram Sona that he is likely to commit any mischief or offence with the girl. As against these aggravating factors, there are no special mitigating factors except the age of the accused. However, considering the depraved and shameful manner in which the offence has been committed, the said mitigating factor would not outweigh the aggravating factors and as such, we are satisfied that present case falls within the ambit of "rarest of rare case".
On the morning of 25th of May 2015, the deceased minor, who was a deaf and dumb girl of 5.5 years, disappeared while playing near her house in Bhilai.
The girl's father filed an FIR (u/s 363 of the IPC), which was registered the next day against unknown persons, suspecting that some unknown persons had abducted and allured his daughter.
On investigation by the Police, mother of Ram Sona (Accused No. 1) Kunti Sona (Accused No.2) revealed to the police that her juvenile son had informed her about Ram Sona murdering a girl and keeping the dead body in the house. She stated that later that night, Accused No 3 (Amrit alias Keli), Ram Sona and Kunti had reached the house and concealed the minor's body in a muddy nala besides the Railway Station.
Statement of Keli revealed that when he was watching TV in Accused No.1's house, Ram Sona had bought the girl at around noon on the 25th May 2015 and committed rape on her by gagging her mouth. He also stated that her body was kept in a white bag in a muddy nala near the railway station.
Body of the deceased minor was found at the spot as corroborated by statements of the Accused and identified by her father.
The main accused, Ram Sona further provided the sequence of events in his statements regarding his sinister plan of abducting the girl by luring her with goodies and then raping her, following which he murdered her and hid her body along with the other accused.
All accused persons pleaded innocence and alleged false implication but did not examine any witnesses.
The trial court relied on the above memorandum of statements of the accused person(s) (appellants), medical evidence of the deceased, circumstantial evidence, statements of other witnesses (prosecution examined as many as 13 witnesses) and oral evidence of the father of the accused to arrive at the death sentence of the accused no. 1 under section 376(A) and 302 of the IPC with other sentences for the remaining charges. The accused(s) persons were also sentenced to undergo different periods of imprisonment for the charges proved against them.
Aggrieved, the Appellant(s) (Accused No. 1,2 & 3) filed a Criminal Appeal against the order of conviction of the Trial Court. The state on the other hand filed a reference for confirmation of the sentence under section 366 of the CRPC.
Contentions raised in Appeal:
Counsel for the Appellants argued that the names of the accused persons were not mentioned in the missing FIR and that they were added as a way of framing the appellants subsequently due to the inability of the prosecution to find the "real" culprits.
It was urged that since there were material contradictions in the statements of various witnesses, the memorandum of statements did not support the case of the prosecution at many places.
Furthermore, on a legal question, the Counsel for Appellant(s) advanced that the deceased was raped, murdered at a particular place, and the manner and thereafter the dead body was thrown near muddy Nala besides railway track had already been discovered in the memorandum statements of Kunti Sona and Amrit Singh, therefore, a fact already discovered could not have again been discovered through memorandum statement of accused Ram Sona. Inter alia, In light of the above, it was argued that the death sentence awarded to the accused Ram Sona (Accused No.1) deserved to be commuted to life imprisonment as mitigating factors came to light instead of the aggravating factors, on the basis of which death sentence had been awarded.
Additional Advocate General appearing on behalf of the state argued that mere gaps in the investigation were not enough to acquit the appellants and that their disclosure statements were exculpatory in themselves and that the confessions of the co-accused could not be used against another accused.
What the High Court Held:
Rejecting the contentions advanced by the Counsel for Appellant(s) and dismissing the appeal, the Court upheld the death sentence awarded by the Trial Court towards Ram Sona and confirmed it.
It was held that Memorandum statements of Kunti Sona and Amrit Singh were admissible in evidence against accused Ram Sona as they found corroboration in the medical report. "Moreover, it is not a case where facts have not been discovered pursuant to the statement of Ram Sona."
It was held that,
"While accused Kunti Sona and Amrit have not committed the main offence under Sections 376 and 302 of the IPC but have only assisted the main accused Ram Sona in concealing the evidence of crime by disposing of the dead body, their disclosure statements are self inculpatory."
While referring to the concept of "rarest of rare cases" elucidated in Macchi Singh Vs. State of Punjab, the court confirmed the death sentence, citing that the shameful and depraved nature of the crime, of raping and murdering a deaf and dumb 5 and a half year old minor girl warranted no interference. Moreover, the pretext of the abduction and luring the child was enough to establish that the child and the locality trusted the Accused (No.1).
It was noted that,
"The victim was resident of the same locality where the accused Ram Sona resides and had thus prior acquaintance with the family of the deceased. It is not a case of rape and murder of any stranger."
Arguments on behalf of the Appellants were led by Mr. DK Gwalre, Mr. Akhil Mishra and Mr. Anand Shukla, Advocates. The Respondent State was represented by Mrs. Fouzia Mirza, Additional Advocate General.
Arguments on behalf of the Appellants were led by Mr. DK Gwalre, Mr. Akhil Mishra and Mr. Anand
Shukla, Advocates. The Respondent State was represented by Mrs. Fouzia Mirza, Additional Advocate General.
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