NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday reduced the sentence of a man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl noting her statement that she is happily married and not interested in pursuing the matter further.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai, P S Narasimha and Aravind Kumar maintained the conviction of the man under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code but reduced the conviction of rigorous life imprisonment to five years spent in jail.
In this case, the trial court in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh had acquitted the appellant. However, the state government filed an appeal and the High Court reversed the acquittal and convicted the man and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for life. The convict had moved the apex court against the Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment.
The top court said though the minimum sentence to be awarded was seven years, discretion is vested with the court which may impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.
Rape victim's statement
“The prosecutrix has also appeared in the matter through the counsel. She has stated that she is happily married and is not interested in pursuing the matter further. The appellant has already undergone a sentence of more than five years,” the bench said.
The top court said taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the present case “we maintain the conviction under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. However, we find that the sentence already undergone will be sufficient to subserve the ends of justice.”
Accused moved apex court
The convict had moved the apex court against the Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment which had said that the man had exploited the victim taking advantage of her poverty.
“The respondent was the guardian of the prosecutrix; his wife has undertaken to educate her and to bring her up. The respondent-accused has exploited the victim taking advantage of her poverty and the fact that his wife has given refuge to the victim for the purposes of education when she was still a student of Class 11th. He has violated her by breach of that confidence,” the high court had said.
The FIR in the case was lodged on October 22, 1996, by the parents of the victim when she had become pregnant and the accused and his wife had offered ₹10,000 to facilitate her abortion.