New Delhi, Feb 5: A Delhi court has sentenced a man to life imprisonment for raping a nine-year-old girl in Ghaziabad in 2013, and came down heavily on the conduct of Uttar Pradesh Police. The court ordered action against its prosecutor and a woman constable for "lack of sensitivity" in handling the case.
The court was irked as UP Police had turned away the victim and her parents, who were residents of the national capital, and asked them to approach Delhi Police even though the incident took place in Ghaziabad. The court said it was "more shocking" that this offence took place within eight months of the "infamous" December 16 gangrape case in which a paramedical student was raped by five men. The woman later succumbed to injuries.
The court made these sharp remarks while handing down life term to the auto-rickshaw driver for kidnapping and raping the child in August 2013.
"The conduct of the UP Police is a matter of concern as in this case, despite coming to know about the commission of the heinous offence such as rape upon a minor girl, the prosecutor in-charge did not act promptly and shifted the case to Delhi Police stating that the child was kidnapped from the jurisdiction of Delhi. He (prosecutor) referred the victim and her parents to Seemapuri police station (in east Delhi) though the offence has been committed in UP," Additional Sessions Judge Gurdeep Singh said.
The court also directed that a copy of the order be sent to the Inspector General (IG), Meerut to take appropriate action against the erring prosecutor and woman constable for not acting promptly and shifting the burden to Delhi Police.
"The shifting of burden in this manner and sending child and her parents to a Delhi police station shows not only lack of sensitivity but is also an offence. It is further more shocking that this offence took place within eight months of infamous Delhi Rape case - Nirbhaya. Therefore, I think it appropriate that the above conduct of the prosecutor in-charge be brought to the notice of the IG Meerut Range who shall take appropriate action against the errant police officials," the judge said.
The court also slapped a fine of Rs 40,000 on the 40- year-old auto-rickshaw driver Om Prakash for the offences of rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation under the IPC, and pulled him up for not doing his public duty as the driver of a public transport.
"Driver of public transport has duty towards public in the similar manner as public servant, as the public reposes trust in the public transport provided with licence to ply the same by the government. They approach the public transport in more unsuspecting manner than a private carrier. Therefore, by alluring unsuspecting child and breaching the trust of the victim, the convict has betrayed the trust and broken public duty. Therefore, the convict does not deserve any leniency to be awarded with minimum sentence but deserves maximum sentence," the court said.
The court sentenced Om Prakash to rigorous imprisonment for life "which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of the person's natural life" for offence of rape. The court held him guilty of the offences punishable under sections 376 (2)(i)(rape of a woman who is under 16-year old), 363 (kidnapping) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The court, after hearing Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) counsel Shabnam Khan, awarded the victim a compensation of Rs 7.5 lakh but observed that "the life long scar" on her mind cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
"The injury cannot be quantified in monetary terms in view of the life long scar on the mind of the victim and mental and physical trauma which she suffered. Therefore, keeping in view the age, economic conditions of the victim and the effect which the crime has made on her on account of aggravated penetrative sexual assault, I am of the opinion that the child is entitled to compensation to the tune of Rs 7.5 lakh by the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA), Shahdara district," the judge said.
According to the prosecution, on August 31, 2013 when the girl finished her school near Shahdara, she was picked up by the convict on the pretext of dropping her home but he took her to a deserted area in Ghaziabad and sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she disclosed the incident to anyone. The convict then made her sit in another auto-rickshaw asking driver Shakir Malik to drop her at her house in Shalimar Bagh here, it said, adding that the second auto driver helped the weeping girl reach her parents by contacting them after seeing her identity card.
Noting the helpful act of Malik, the court recommended his name for reward for helping her and performing his duty as a good citizen. Malik's testimony led to the conviction of Om Prakash as he had identified him before the court despite the victim child failing to do so. During the trial, the accused driver had denied the allegations contending he was falsely implicated by the police and the main accused was let off.