The Rajasthan High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded by the Pratapgarh District & Sessions Court to a man convicted of sexual harassment and murder of an 8-year-old girl, terming the crime “rarest of the rare”.
The incident occurred on July 5, 2013, when the accused appellant, Prahalad Meena, went to the victim’s house, where she was playing with other children, and enquired her parent’s whereabouts. When she told him that they had gone to buy grocery, he took her away on the pretext of buying her chocolates, which he had bought from a near-by store after knowing that her parents were not at home. The victim’s parents had mentioned in the FIR that after returning home, their niece (who had been playing with the victim when the above-mentioned incident occurred) told them that the victim had gone with the accused. After searching the entire night, they found her blood-stained body in the morning.
Blood was detected on the blouse and skirt of the deceased victim, and Prahalad’s trousers. A test to match blood group type was reported to be inconclusive. However, it was established after a medical examination that blood was found on the clothes and vaginal smear of the deceased, and on Prahalad’s trousers.
The accused appellant argued that the entire case was based on circumstantial evidence and could not be considered as one of “rarest of the rare”. His counsel pleaded that if there was no injury on the private parts of the deceased and accused, and the semen stain mismatched, then no conviction can be made on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
However, dismissing the contentions, the High Court said: ‘The judgments cited by the learned counsel for the accused are not applicable in the present case because a number of injuries were found upon different parts of the body of an 8-year- old girl. This Court cannot lose sight of the fact that semen was found in the FSL report upon the slide taken from the body of the deceased, who was 8 years of age, and this fact is sufficient to accept the prosecution case that deceased was taken while offering chocolate to her by the accused so as to commit rape, therefore, the judgements cited by the learned counsel for the accused are not applicable upon the facts and evidence of this case.’
The court further stated that it was amply proven that the mother of the deceased treated the accused as her brother and used to tie him rakhi as well. This fact was known to all the residents of the area and the children treated him as their maternal uncle. It was accepted that the accused, by the heinous act, has crushed all limits of trust.
Highlighting the gravity of the offence, Justice G.R. Moolchandani and Justice Gopal Krishan Vyas said: ‘The accused appellant not only committed the heinous crime of outraging the modesty of the deceased, but also caused injury upon the head by stone, which is evident from the opinion given by the medical board in the post mortem report. It is also evident that the deceased tried to resist but the helpless girl was killed by the accused appellant, therefore, it is not only a case of murder and harassing sexually of young girl of 8 years but it is a case in which all the parameters of trust are crushed by the accused appellant. The accused appellant murdered a helpless minor girl only to satisfy his physical desire.’
The court held that the offence committed can rightly be deemed as “rarest of the rare” and awarding any lesser punishment than death would be inappropriate to the cause of justice.
Read the Judgment here.