Updated on: Thursday, November 18, 2021, 02:05 AM IST

Mumbai: For sexual assault on toddler, pani-puri vendor gets 10 yrs in jail


Calling the act a heinous crime, a sessions court in Dindoshi last Thursday sentenced a 31-year-old pani puri vendor to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for sexually assaulting a two-year-old child who lived in the vicinity of his stall. The child could not be examined in court due to the age at which the incident took place.

The man had carried the toddler up the staircase of her aunt's house before committing the act. His stall was adjacent to her aunt’s home, where her parents would leave her regularly while going for work. The child had started crying and her aunt, who was busy with housework, had come out and asked the reason. She had pointed at the man, while continuing to cry. The aunt had noticed blood on her undergarment and informed the child’s mother, who swiftly returned from work.

Prosecutor Sachin Jadhav said the court in its judgment relied on the testimonies of the toddler’s aunt, who is the complainant in the case, and her parents. The child had pointed at the man when all of them asked about the reason for her distress. The accused’s advocate had contended that pointing of finger does not show culpability and that the child should have taken the name of the accused. The court stated in its judgment that it is a matter of common prudence that a child would continue to weep if hurt by a person and would simply point a finger at the latter, instead of stating the name.

The man had claimed leniency, telling the court that his brother is disabled and that he is a poor person. His advocate had requested the court to consider his young age. Additional sessions judge SU Baghele said the accused sexually assaulted a child who was just over two years of age and said the crime is heinous in nature.

The court then considered that he did not cause severe physical harm to the child or carry her to an unknown place at a longer distance. Thus, it said that the minimum punishment under the provision of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act dealing with aggravated penetrative sexual assault would meet the ends of justice.

Judge Baghele also considered his poor financial capacity while imposing a fine of Rs 5,500. The man has been in jail since his arrest after the incident in March 2016. The court said that from his sentence the period he had undergone in jail shall be deducted.

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Published on: Thursday, November 18, 2021, 02:05 AM IST