8 Feb 2023 9:28 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court recently upheld the order of a Session Court awarding life imprisonment to 2 persons after finding them guilty of committing gang rape against a 7-year-old girl in the year 2010. Refusing to reduce the sentence awarded to the convicts, the bench of Justice Suneet Kumar and Justice Umesh Chandra Sharma observed thus: “It is not a case of rape by juvenile,...
The Allahabad High Court recently upheld the order of a Session Court awarding life imprisonment to 2 persons after finding them guilty of committing gang rape against a 7-year-old girl in the year 2010.
Refusing to reduce the sentence awarded to the convicts, the bench of Justice Suneet Kumar and Justice Umesh Chandra Sharma observed thus:
“It is not a case of rape by juvenile, a single accused with a mature lady or with a girl who is on the verge of attaining the age of puberty or majority. The victim was not knowing even the nature of the offence. Therefore, considering the nature of injuries, age of the victim, age of the accused persons and that it is a case of gang rape with a little girl, this Court is of the view that the trial court has rightly imposed the sentence of life imprisonment and fine of Rs.10,000/- each.”
The case in brief
As per the prosecution’s case, the convicts, on the pretext of bringing gutkha, carried the victim, a 7-year-old girl to a drain situated in the east of the village and forcibly raped her.
When the victim did not return for a long time, her parents started searching for her and that is when they heard the victim's scream coming from the side of the drain.
The informant (father of the victim), his wife and other villagers reached there and saw that two of the convicts were holding his daughter’s hands and the third accused was doing bad things with her. Seeing them all the three accused persons ran away leaving the victim covered in blood.
The ASJ, Pilibhit on August 25, 2011, convicted the accused-appellants under Section 376(2)(g) IPC and they were awarded life imprisonment and Rs.10,000/- fine each.
Challenging their conviction, they moved to the High Court. During the pendency of the appeal, one convict named Lal Jeet died and thus, the appeal so far as he was concerned, stood abated.
High Court’s observations
The court noted that the case was based on direct evidence and on the evidence of the victim and from the evidence, the mens rea to commit the alleged offence had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Court noted that it was also proved from the evidence of the prosecution witness that there was no enmity or false implication of the accused persons.
Taking into account various rulings of the Apex Court, the Court observed that where a girl child is the victim of offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC, she has to be given some weight as is given to an injured witness and her evidence needs no corroboration.
In the instant case, the Court said the victim had deposed that all three accused persons did bad things to her and that all three accused persons had taken her outside the village and pushed her on the ground, thereafter, they raped her.
Regarding the medical evidence, the Court noted that the victim was medically examined by PW-7, Dr. Vijay Laxmi, wherein she had admitted and deposed that the victim was raped. In view of this, the court found her testimony not to be contrary to the prosecution evidence.
Against this backdrop, finding justification in the order and judgement of the trial Court in determining the guilt of the convicts, the High Court observed thus:
“…this Court is of the considered view that the accused appellants committed gang rape with the victim, a girl of a tender age, not understanding any one characteristics of sex and pleasure related to it. Even her sexual organs were not developed properly. The victim was of the age of a girl child of the accused persons, even then they committed such cruel, merciless, illegal and uncivilized act with her. 47. In view of the above discussion, it is concluded that the learned trial court committed no illegality in holding the accused persons guilty of committing gang rape.”
Further, when the counsels for the accused-appellants argued that considering the age and future life of the accused, a lenient view may be adopted so far as sentencing is concerned, the Court observed that it was a case of rape of a tender-aged girl, who was not knowing even the nature of the offence.
In this regard, the Court referred to several rulings of the Apex Court in such rape cases (committed against minor girls) wherein it was observed that the punishment ought to be commensurate to the gravity of the crime.
Against this backdrop, finding no mitigating circumstances present to reduce the sentence already imposed by the trial court, the Court upheld the order of punishment and sentence by the trial court.
Counsel for Appellants: Suresh Singh Yadav, Kuldeep Johri Counsel, Ajay Kumar Srivastava, Ajay Kumar Kashyap and Subhash Chandra Yadav
For Respondent: Govt. Advocate
Case title - Lal Jeet and Tej Bahadur vs. State of U.P. along with a connected appeal
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 51
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