We recommend/suggest to the State Government to enact suitable legislation for awarding death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls aged 15 years or below within three months
While confirming the death sentence handed down to a man for raping and murdering an 8-year-old girl last year, the Uttarakhand High Court on Friday recommended the state government to enact in three months a suitable legislation for awarding death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls of 15 years or below.
A bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh confirmed the death sentence awarded to convict named Karandeep Sharma who was awarded capital punishment by a Sessions court in April, 2017 for raping an 8-year-old girl and causing her death due to pain.
“In the present case, the convict took the victim along with him. He committed rape upon her. She died during the intercourse. Thus, it was a calculated, cold-blooded and the brutal murder of an eight years’ old girl by the appellant after committing rape on her. Thus, no lenient view can be taken,” said the bench.
While dismissing his appeal and confirming the punishment, the court expressed its concern about increasing number of cases of crime against children in Uttarakhand.
Facts of the case
The victim had gone to attend a jagran with her family on the intervening night of June 25-26, 2016.
While the victim’s mother and brother came back home at 1.30 am, she, her cousin and neighbour’s daughter and many children from the neighbourhood stayed back.
In the morning of June 26, 2016, the victim’s father noted that she had not returnedand lodged an FIR. He tried his best to trace her. When he was searching for the victim, someone told him that the body of a child was lying in the nearby field. He identified the body as that of his daughter. It seemed that the child was raped before being killed.
Many independent persons came forward stating that they had seen the girl leaving with a person wearing thick lens glasses who was working in the jagran as electrician.
The DNA from the body fluids found on the clothes of the victim matched with that of the convict.
He was booked for offences of rape, kidnapping etc under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act, and held guilty by the fast track court.
The bench took special note of the submission of the doctor who conducted the post-mortem to say that the victim died due to asphyxia as a result of commission of rape. The doctor had further opined that as a result of commission of rape, the victim has undergone acute pain and shock and due to exertion of pressure, she was suffocated. The internal organs of the victim i.e. brain, liver, spleen and kidneys were congested.
“In the instant case, the convict was depraved. He took away the girl from the religious construction. The convict stifled the victim by placing his hand on her mouth when she was forcibly raped. The cause of the death of victim is excessive pain leading to shock,” said the court denying any leniency and applying the principle of proportionality.
“The appellant has taken advantage of her young age and he committed rape upon the victim causing her death. Recoveries were effected from the convict. The act of the convict falls within the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases. The convict was a married person,” it said.
The bench relied on Supreme Court judgment in Nathu vs State of UP where the apex court upheld the death sentence imposed upon the convict for causing death of 14-year-old girl after luring her into the house for committing criminal assault.
It cited SC case of Laxman Naik vs State of Orissa, where the court upheld the death sentence by treating the case falling under the category of ‘Rarest of rare cases’, as it was a case of calculated, cold-blooded and brutal murder of a 7-year-old girl by her own uncle after committing rape on her.
Applying the principle of proportionality, the bench relied on 2008 SC verdict in Shivaji @ Dadya Shankar Alhat vs State of Maharashtra to say that punishment awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant, but it should conform to and be consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public abhorrence and it should ‘respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminal’.
Law for death if rape victim is under 15
Before parting with the judgment, the bench took note of “ever increasing crime against the children in the State of Uttarakhand”.
It took notice of the report of National Crime Records Bureau under the caption “Crime Against Children (States & UTs)” for the year 2016, which says 489 cases were registered in the year 2014, 635 cases were registered in the year 2015 and 676 cases were registered in the year 2016.
The bench remarked that the ratio of cases of rape upon children is disproportionately large vis-à-vis the population of State of Uttarakhand.
“The Court is coming across a number of cases where the victims, aged 15 years or below, are being raped and murdered. There should be deterrence. Though, it is for the State Government to bring an appropriate legislation to impose death sentence upon the convicts who are found guilty in cases of rape, however, the Court can always make suggestions/ recommendations to the State Government to bring a suitable Legislation to impose a stringent sentence upon the persons who are found guilty in the cases of committing rape on the victims aged 15 years or below.
“Accordingly, we recommend/suggest to the State Government to enact suitable legislation for awarding death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls aged 15 years or below within three months,” it concluded.