The Delhi High Court has upheld the conviction of and life sentence awarded to a man for raping a minor girl, saying "child rape is inexcusable" and "no leniency or mercy can be shown" to one who commits such a crime.
While upholding the March 2004 decision of a trial court to sentence the man to imprisonment for life, a bench of Justices S P Garg and C Hari Shankar observed that child rape was "an offence less of passion and more of power".
The court said that while rape was an anathema, but when it was perpetrated on a minor, it showed the "depravity" ingrained in the psyche of the perpetrator and such persons did not deserve any leniency in law or the right to cohabit in society with others.
"Ecclesiastically as well as temporally, child rape is inexcusable. No leniency, or mercy, can be shown to the violator of the body of a child of tender years, who is yet to savour the first fragrance of adolescence.
"We find no reason, therefore, to interfere, far less differ, with the finding, of the Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ), that the appellant (Anil Mehto) was guilty of having committed rape on the prosecutrix and, subsequently, of having threatened her with dire consequences, in case she were to disclose the fact of commission of rape, on her, to anyone else," the bench said.
The court refused to interfere with the life sentence awarded to the convict, saying "the perpetration of social order would necessarily require, therefore, the removal of such elements from the societal fabric, if the warp and weft thereof are to remain intact".
The bench further said that "child rape was the ultimate indicator of the reality, often unnoticed, that rape is an offence less of passion and more of power".
"Rape, of any kind and on anyone, is an anathema in a civilised society; when perpetrated on a young child, however, it betokens a depravity, in the perpetrator, which is ingrained in his psyche, and which altogether disentitles him from any leniency, in law, or the right to cohabit, in society, with his brother," it added.
According to the prosecution, the incident occurred on the night of August 16, 2000, when Mehto raped the minor girl while her siblings and father were sleeping.
The then 10-year-old girl in her testimony had said that the convict first raped her inside her room and then took her to the roof of his house where he again sexually assaulted her.
Thereafter, he had threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the incident, the girl had testified.
However, on the next day she had told some women of her neighbourhood who had then called the police.