SC Hands Down 30-Year Prison Sentence For Raping Minor In Temple

New Delhi: Affirming the conviction of a man for raping a seven-year-old girl in a temple in Madhya Pradesh back six years ago, the Supreme Court has sentenced him to imprisonment for 30 years, terming his action barbaric.

The victim’s grandmother had lodged an FIR against the convict who was aged 40 years at the time of the crime in 2018. The man took the minor to the temple and committed the crime.

The convict was found guilty at the trial court which awarded capital punishment under Section 376 AB of the Indian Penal Code. The Madhya Pradesh High Court, however, changed the verdict to life imprisonment. A bench comprising Justices C T Ravikumar and Rajesh Bindal considered the petitioner’s current age and the time already spent in incarceration.

While altering the sentence, the Apex Court also levied a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the convict. Observing the lasting impact on the victim, the court remarked that every visit to a temple may serve as a reminder of the unfortunate and barbaric ordeal she endured.

“It is noted that if the victim is religious, every visit to any temple may hark back to her the unfortunate, barbaric action to which she was subjected to. So also, the incident may haunt her and adversely impact her future married life, the bench said. “Then, we are also to take into account the present age of the petitioner and the fact that he has already undergone incarceration.

On consideration of all such aspects, we are of the considered view that a fixed term of sentence of 30 years, which shall include the period already undergone, must be the modified sentence of imprisonment,” the bench said.

The Supreme Court pointed out that the High Court overlooked the fact that although the man was convicted under Section 376 (2) (i) and sections of the POCSO Act, the trial court did not impose separate sentences for the offense under the POCSO Act due to the imposition of the capital sentence.

“In terms of the provisions under Section 376 AB, IPC, when a sentence of imprisonment for a term not less than 20 years which may extend up to life imprisonment is imposed, the convict is also liable to suffer a sentence of fine which shall be just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses and rehabilitation of the victim which we quantify as Rs 1 lakh and the same shall be paid to the victim,” the bench said.

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