MP HC Confirms Death For Teacher Who Raped Minor [Read Judgment]

MP HC Confirms Death For Teacher Who Raped Minor [Read Judgment]

This is probably the first case where a High court confirmed a death sentence under Section 376(AB) of the Indian Penal Code, which provides for death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age. This provision was inserted into IPC last year, through Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018. Death penalty awarded in two such cases, were commuted by the High Court last year.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded to a teacher for raping a four-and-half-year-old child, while holding that capital punishment was the proper punishment in the case and any other punishment was absolutely inadequate.

A bench of Justice PK Jaiswal and Justice Anjuli Palo upheld the order of the trial court convicting the appellant under Sections 363 and 376(a)(b) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(j)(n) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and rejected his plea for leniency in awarding punishment.

The crime took place on 1st July 2018. The Trial Court convicted and awarded death sentence to the accused on 19th September 2018. Within four months, the High court completed hearing the appeal and the reference and delivered this judgment on 25th January, 2019, confirming the Trial Court verdict of 'death sentence'.

The bench said so while deciding the appeal of the convict, aged 28 years, against his conviction and also the death reference.

"In present scenario where day-by-day such type of crime continuously increased, reformative ideas are totally ineffective. Justice demands that the Court should impose punishment befitting the crime so that it reflects public abhorrence of the crime.

"It is not in dispute that at the time of the incident the appellant was working as a teacher. Hence, it is expected from him that he live and act according to his moral liability so that he teach the students in noble manner. It could not be conceived from a person who is performing the pious duty of a teacher, who is expected to nurture the character and morality in children of the nation, to commit such kind of heinous act which tantamount to moral turpitude also," said Justice Palo, who authored the judgment for the bench.

In the instant case, on the night of July 1, 2018, the minor prosecutrix was sleeping on a cot with her father in the courtyard of her house. About 10 pm, the convict came to meet her father and left after some conversation. About 12 midnight, the father of the prosecutrix went to urinate near a pond. When he returned, the prosecutrix was not on the cot.

He and other members of the family started looking for her and found her lying unconscious in the fields of one Dheer Singh. She was bleeding from her private parts.

A police case was registered and the girl was referred to AlIMS, New Delhi, due to the severe injuries she had received. The accused was also arrested.

The police said the convict had kidnapped the minor, he first committed digital rape on the girl as he gagged her with his right hand. When the girl started bleeding, he raped her due to which she fell unconscious.

The high court said it did not want to disbelieve the testimony of the examining doctor who had deposed that the prosecutrix had been subjected to severe sexual assault though she may not have used the term "severe" and referred her to AIIMS, New Delhi.

The court noted the deposition of two villagers with who the convict had shared how he had raped the minor and on his admission, the police recovered the blood-stained undergarment of the prosecutrix.

"It is very important to note that the prosecutrix herself identified the appellant in the Court and stated that he had committed rape with her. Looking to the age of the prosecutrix which is four years, we cannot expect from her to give a detailed statement. We rely on her testimony along with other evidence which is sufficient to establish the crime of the appellant," it said.

The police had also recovered blood-stained soil from the field where the prosecutrix was found from. A scientist from FSL Unit at Satna also investigated the crime scene and found dried blood stains on some bushes and small plants and signs of friction. Further, the injury found on the left-hand finger of the convict was found to have been caused in the course of sexually assaulting the minor.

The DNA profile further confirmed that it was the appellant who had raped the minor.

On the appellant pleading for leniency on the ground that he is aged only 28 years and has no criminal antecedent, the bench said, "In the present case, the appellant had sexually assaulted a small girl aged about 4½ years in brutal manner and raped her. From the injuries caused by him to the child after putting hand on her mouth, there is ample possibility that she may died."

It relied on the case titled Purushottam Dashrath Borate vs. State of Maharashtra, wherein the Supreme Court had held that "The age of the accused persons, their family background and lack of criminal antecedents cannot be said to be the mitigating circumstance, the nature of heinous offence and cold and calculated manner in which it was committed by the accused person. The agony suffered by the family of the victims cannot be ignored".

"Such incident will have an everlasting effect on the mind of the prosecutrix. The injuries caused to the prosecutrix who is aged only 4½ years will also cause her mental and physical agony in her lifetime," said the high court.

It also cited the December 16, 2012 gangrape case wherein the Supreme Court had said, "Where a crime is committed with extreme brutality and the collective conscience of the society is shocked, courts must award death penalty, irrespective of their personal opinion as regards desirability of death penalty. By not imposing a death sentence in such cases, the courts may do injustice to the society at large …While considering the imposition of appropriate punishment, courts should not only keep in view the rights of the criminal but also the rights of the victim and the society at large".

"After considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case and also mitigating circumstances, we come to the conclusion that the instant case clearly comes within the category of the "rarest of the rare case". Hence, the capital punishment is a proper punishment for the appellant. Any other punishment is absolutely inadequate. In the light of principle laid down by the Supreme Court in above various cases, we confirm the capital punishment awarded by the learned trial Court to the appellant and the manner of the execution of the death sentence as prescribed by the learned trial Court is proper under Section 354(5) of Cr.P.C.," it concluded.

Read the Judgment Here