A Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Prithviraj K. Chavan, JJ. confirmed the death sentence awarded by the trial court to the accused−appellant for committing heinous crime of brutal sexual assault on a child aged 3-years and 9-months, and after that committing her murder. While confirming the death sentence in this rarest of rare cases, the High Court remarked that “The act of the accused is gruesome and is committed in a diabolic manner. It is a heinous offence. It is unimaginable that a cheerful, frolicking child enjoying with her pet would provoke the feelings of lust in a man who is a father of two daughters and a son. The perversity in the mind of the accused is apparent and therefore, we are of the opinion that the aggravating circumstances in the present case outweigh the mitigating circumstances placed before the court in the course of hearing of the appeal.”
On 30-9-2013, the 3-years and 9-months old victim went out of her house to play with her dog but did not return. Upon searching, her father found the dog tied to the watchmen’s chawl which was just next to the room of the accused (a watchman) but could not find her daughter. A missing report was lodged, and investigation began. The dead body of the victim was found lying in a mud pond. The accused was arrested. The autopsy of the dead body showed that she was brutally sexually abused before she was put to death. On completion of trial, the accused was convicted and sentenced as mentioned above.
The trial court convicted the accused and directed to be hanged by neck till he is dead for having committed offences punishable under Sections 302, 363, 376(2)(i) and 201 IPC, and Sections 8 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).
The High Court he spoke to the accused personally and he did not show any remorse. The only mitigating circumstance put forth by him was economic stringency of his family. The Court was convinced that the act committed by the accused was gruesome and revolts human conscience.
After relying on the decisions in Vasanta Sampat Dhupare v. State of Maharashtra, and Ramnaresh v. State of Chattisgarh on the principles of sentencing, the High Court recorded that the accused did not for a moment thought of the precious life of the minor child. It did not strike him for a moment that he himself happens to be a father of two daughters, who are yet to see the life. The crime smacks of degradation of a girl child, depravity, and perversity of his mind. The child was sexually assaulted in barbaric and inhuman manner. It is diabolic in nature and thereafter, it was a brutal murder which makes it the rarest of rare case. The Court further observed that “It is such an incident that parents of every small girl child would feel a chill down the spine before sending their undefended, innocent, minor girl child to see the rainbow as they would be scared as to whether she would fall a prey to any monster like the present one. It is the safety of a girl child which is of paramount importance to a society.”
The Court concluded that it is the bounden duty of the courts to impose a sentence which is proportionate to the offence committed by an accused. The accused in the instant case deserved death penalty, as any alternative punishment would be unquestionably foreclosed taking into consideration the inhuman and barbaric act of the accused. The prosecution has proved the chain of aggravating circumstances as against the mitigating circumstances beyond reasonable doubt. The act of rape and the manner in which the child was murdered and abandoned in the muddy pond invited indignation and abhorrence. Hence, the death penalty awarded to the accused was confirmed and the criminal appeal filed by the accused was dismissed.
– Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work