Punjab and Haryana High Court (File)
Taking a strong note of a Faridabad court’s failure in awarding appropriate sentence to a convict for rape of a four-year-old, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered that the appeal of the convict be listed for arguments within six months. While the law provided for a minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment and maximum life, the trial court had sentenced the convict only to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
“The court below has totally lost sight of these provisions and rather has convicted the applicant to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years. In view of the heinousness of the offence and seriousness of allegations and the claim of applicant’s counsel that he is behind bars for more than four yeas is no extenuating circumstance,” Justice Fateh Deep Singh has said in an order while dismissing the prayer for suspension of sentence.
The convict, Dharambir alias Dharma, had been found guilty of commission of offence under Section 342, 363, 376 IPC and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in 2015 by the Sessions Court, Faridabad. In the case registered in 2014, the 28-year-old Faridabad man was accused of raping a minor. He had approached the high court seeking suspension of sentence till passing of final decision of his appeal pending since 2017. In 2018 too, the high court had declined to suspend his sentence considering the age of the victim.
Observing that the crime for which Dharambir been found guilty constitutes an offence under POCSO Act as well as the IPC and therefore the convict is liable to a punishment under the provision of law, which is greater in degree, Justice Singh in the verdict said the the record reveals the victim happens to be a minor girl aged four years at the time of commission of the offence.
“In the un-amended India Penal Code, Section 376 under Section (2) Clause (i) (prior to its omission) and Clause (j), prescribes that whosoever commits rape on a woman when she is under 16 years of age; or on a woman incapable of giving consent, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and shall be liable to fine,” reads the order.