Delhi court sentences man to 10 years in jail for raping minor in 2017

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New Delhi, Jun 7 (PTI) A court here on Friday sentenced a 49-year-old man to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for forcibly marring and raping a minor in 2017, saying sentencing needs to balance the twin objectives of deterrence and reform.

Additional Sessions Judge Ankit Mehta was hearing the case against the man who was convicted in April this year under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions for rape, section 6 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Section 9 (punishment for male adult marrying a child) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

According to the prosecution, the convict had married the 13-year-old minor and established forcible physical relations with her.

"While there is no denying that the victim has suffered mental trauma due to the forceful marriage and rape committed by the convict, this court also finds that the convict has two minor daughters who are now 13 and 17 years old from his first marriage," the court said.

It said it was essential for the minor girls to be under their father's shelter "not immediately but maybe in some time." The court also noted that the convict who had been incarcerated for over six years had no criminal antecedents and his conduct in jail was satisfactory.

It said the sentence had to be commensurate with several relevant factors, including the nature and gravity of the offence, manner of committing the crime, condition of the victim, the convict's age and whether he was a habitual offender.

"There is no straight jacket formula for the same and as such, both the aggravating and mitigating factors need to be considered. Further, sentencing needs to balance the twin objectives of deterrence and reform of the accused," the court said.

It said that the punishment under IPC was greater in degree than the POCSO provision.

The court sentenced the convict to 10 years rigorous imprisonments each for the offences of aggravated rape under IPC Section 376 (2) (i) and committing repeated rape on the victim under 376 2 (n).

It also sentenced him to two years simple imprisonment under the provision of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

The sentences will run concurrently, the court said.

It also awarded Rs 10.5 lakh compensation to the victim.

Earlier, while convicting the accused, the court said that the prosecution had established that the child was a "victim of circumstances" who was forced into marriage by her maternal grandmother.

According to the victim's statement, her father had deserted the family, while her mother was mentally challenged and she was considered a "liability" in the maternal grandmother's house.

"After the death of my grandmother, it was against my will that the villagers forced me to marry the accused," she said.

The victim said that the accused was already married twice. The first wife had died while the second left him, she said.

"During the first two months after the accused got me to his village, he used to beat me mercilessly and force himself upon me which I resented," she said.

After sensing trouble in the village, the accused brought her to the national capital where she was again tortured, the victim added.

Delhi Police had registered a case after being informed by local residents that the victim was subjected to violence.

Later, the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) appointed advocate Virender Verma to provide legal support to the victim. PTI MNR NB NB