The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court rejected an appeal filed by a 55-year-old man from Wardha who was convicted of raping his minor step-daughter and was sentenced to life by the trial court.
The bench of Justice RK Deshpande and Justice MG Giratkar accepted the findings of the trial court and the appellant’s conviction under Section 5(n) punishable under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
The victim was not even 2 years old when her mother died. Since then, she had been living in a rented accommodation with her step-father. She was 15 years old in 2013 when she started menstruating. She told the accused about this and he scolded her saying that her clothes were stained with blood because she might have slept with somebody.
After 2-3 days, the accused started sleeping with her. He used to undress her, threaten her and committed penetrative sexual assault on her until 2014.
Thereafter, as the victim was not feeling well one day and she informed her neighbour about the same. The neighbour then took the victim to a doctor who upon examination confirmed that the victim was pregnant. Then upon enquiry, the victim told the neighbour and the doctor everything.
An FIR was registered under sections 376(f)(i)(k)(n), 323, 504, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, and sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from the Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) against the accused step-father.
In the meantime, the victim gave birth to a child on June 1, 2014.
The sessions court, Wardha, in a judgment dated June 27, 2016 convicted the appellant and sentenced him to suffer the maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
In the appeal, it was argued on behalf of the appellant that there was a delay in filing the FIR. The court refused to accept this submission and said:“Victim was a helpless child who was alone residing with the appellant. She was threatened by the appellant. In such circumstances, it cannot be expected from such a minor child to come forward and go to the Police Station and lodge report.”
The court also noted why leniency should be shown in such a case.
“The case in hand is of a serious nature. When a protector becomes perpetrator and the victim, who is a minor girl solely dependent upon him, is ravished by such a person, the victim is left with no other option but to surrender mutely.
The mental agony and pain the victim could have gone through each time when the appellant abused her physically, in the circumstances the victim finding herself alone and helpless, without being in a position to disclose the same to anyone, does not entitle the appellant for any leniency. Leniency shown in such cases by the Courts would not only defeat the very purpose of the POSCO Act, but would encourage a criminal mind to commit such offences further,” the court said.
Thus, the appeal against the judgment of conviction was dismissed.
Read the Judgment Here