Enhanced age, regular court attendance no reason for lesser sentence in rape case: Bombay HC

According to the prosecution, on November 19, 2005, Mudgal raped the woman between 9 pm and 10 pm in her marital home while other members of the family

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, August 21, 2022, 06:08 PM IST
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Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image

Observing that the advanced age of an accused and that he regularly attended court proceedings cannot be a reason for lesser than minimum punishment as per the law in a rape case, the Bombay High Court has enhanced the sentence of a 49-year-old man from five years to seven years for raping his deaf and mute sister-in-law in 2005.

Nashik-resident Madhukar Mudgul, raped his sister-in-law when the family members were away and threatened to harm her husband (his younger brother) who is blind.

A division bench of Justices Ajey Gadkari and Milind Jadhav, on August 19, enhanced the sentence of Mudgul observing: “Appellant has behaved in the most horrific manner and shocked our conscience. The magnitude of his offence is such that he has misused his position of trust and committed an act as alleged and proved on a helpless handicapped victim who could not speak or hear.”

The HC was hearing an appeal filed by Mudgul challenging his conviction contending that he was falsely being framed in the case. The state government had also filed an appeal seeking enhancement of his sentence. Also, the HC had taken suo moto (on its own) cognisance of the issue.

Sessions court at Nashik had sentenced Mudgul to five years of imprisonment taking into consideration the age of the accused and that he was facing trial for 6 - 7 years and attending the court regularly. The minimum sentence for the offence is seven years which can extend up to life imprisonment.

According to the prosecution, on November 19, 2005, Mudgal raped the woman between 9 pm and 10 pm in her marital home while other members of the family, including Mudgal’s wife and in-laws, were away. The woman said she tried to inform her father-in-law but instead of paying heed, he dropped her off at her mother's house as she was unwell.

An FIR was registered after three days when the woman confided in her mother, who approached the police.

The defence contended that the woman had filed a false complaint against Mudgal at her mother’s behest to divide their joint family. It was further contended that Mudgal too had gone along with the rest of the family members for bhajan-kirtan.

However, the prosecution contended that Mudgal was in the house on the day of the incident along with the woman and her husband, who was sleeping in another room.

The court relied on the woman’s statement before the trial court, which was recorded with the help of an interpreter; and on her mother’s and the interpreter’s statements.

The court rejected the defence's argument that the partition was the reason behind the allegation since the partition suit was filed a year after the incident.

Dismissing the defence arguments, the court observed: “It is to be understood that no woman would even otherwise level and take the risk of levelling such a wild charge of ravishing her only on the pretext of partition of the property…” it further added: “Unless and until such an incident had happened or occurred there was no reason for the victim to make such an allegation.”

The court has increased Mudgal’s sentence to seven years and increased the fine amount from Rs 1,000 to Rs 25,000 observing: “… rape is not merely a physical assault but it destructs the whole personality of the helpless woman. In the present case, the victim is a helpless handicapped woman and thus, the present case requires to be dealt with utmost sensitivity.” The HC has granted him four weeks to surrender.

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