Supreme Court doubles sentence of rapists

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New Delhi, Sep 16: Doubling the sentence of a rapist of a ten-year-old girl from three and a half years to seven years, the Supreme Court has held that crimes of violence against women must be sternly dealt with.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and PP Naolekar, while setting aside the judgement of Karnataka High Court, has held ''considering the legal position and in the absence of any reason which could have been treated as special and adequate.

The reduction of sentence as done by the High Court is clearly unsustainable.'' ''The trial court should have imposed sentence of ten years in terms of section 376 (20) (f) IPC. But state has not questioned the sentence as imposed by the trial court is restored. The high court's order reducing the sentence is set aside.'' The apex court, while appealing the state of Karnataka and enhancing the sentence of Raju has said ,''It needs no emphasis that the physical scar may heal but the mental scar will always remain. When a woman is ravished, what is inflicted is not merely physical injury but the deep sense of some deathless shame. And accused cannot cling to fossil formula and insist on corroborative evidence, even if taken as a whole, the case spoken to by the victim strikes a judicial mind as probable. Judicial response to human rights cannot be blunted by legal jugglary.'' Notably, the victim was less than 12 years of age when she was subjected to sexual assault by the accused, Raju, on January 31, 1993 in Gulbarga, Karnataka.

The apex court in its jugdgment concluded by observing, ''protection of society and deterring the criminal is the avowed object of law and that is required to be achieved by imposing an appropriate sentence and the court should proceed to impose a sentence to commensurate with the gravity of offence.

Courts must hear the loud cry for justice by society in cases of the heinous crime of rape on innocent helpless girls of tender years as in this case and respond by imposition of proper sentence.

Public abhorrence of the crime needs reflection through imposition of appropriate sentence by the court. To show mercy in the case of such a heinous crime would be a travesty of justice and the plea for leniency is wholly misplaced.

In a 13-page judgement, Justice Pasayat also noted, ''Judges in essence affirm that punishment always ought to fit the crime, yet in practice sentences are determined largely by other considerations. Propotion between crime and punishment is a goal respected in principle and inspite of errant notions, it remains a strong influence in the determination of sentences.''

UNI

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