Palghar, Feb 9 (PTI) A special POCSO court in Maharashtra's Vasai town has sentenced a 33-year-old driver to ten years of rigorous imprisonment for raping and blackmailing a minor girl in 2016.
Judge SV Kongal, presiding over the court set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, convicted the driver, Sandeep Rajendraprasad Yadav, a resident of Nallasopara in Palghar district, of various offences, including rape (IPC section 376).
Two other accused, including a woman, charged with facilitating the offence of rape, were acquitted by the court due to insufficient evidence against them.
The order was pronounced on February 7 and a copy of it was made available on Friday.
Besides the POCSO Act, Yadav was also charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the IT Act.
The court imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the convict and handed him varying terms of imprisonment, ranging from 6 months to one year, for offences under the IPC and the IT Act. All sentences will run concurrently.
During the trial, Special Public Prosecutor Jaiprakash Patil alleged that Yadav had coerced the victim (age not undisclosed) into sending him money for making her a fashion model and engaging in physical relations.
Subsequently, Yadav blackmailed the victim with compromising images and also raped her by giving sedative-laced drink, according to the prosecution.
Yadav's counsel Uday Patil argued for leniency, highlighting his client's family responsibilities and peaceful conduct during the trial. On the other hand, prosecutor Jaiprakash Patil urged the court to impose the maximum sentence, stressing the severity of the offences.
The judge, while delivering the verdict, noted the gravity of the crimes and emphasized the need for justice for the victim.
The court also ordered compensation for the victim through the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), acknowledging the financial and emotional toll suffered by the victim and her family.
The judge noted, "In present case, punishment provided under section 376(1) of the IPC is imprisonment not less than 7 years, but which may extent up to imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life and shall also be liable to fine." "There are allegations of rape. Accused in the present case is aged about 33 years. He is married and has two children and old aged mother. Looking to his family background and nature of offence, I am of the view that rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for the offence punishable under section 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code would suffice the purpose," said the court. PTI COR RSY