A Sessions court here sentenced a 42-year-old HIV-positive man to 25 years in prison on Friday for raping his minor step-daughter, administering pills which caused her to suffer a miscarriage, and attempt to murder for indulging in unprotected sex with the child despite knowing of his HIV-positive status.
Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau convicted the man to ten years in prison for rape, five years for causing miscarriage without the child’s content, and ten years for attempt to murder for endangering her life through performing unprotected sex. Instead of the normal practice of the sentences running concurrently, the court ordered that the three sentences will run consecutively – which means the convict will spend 25 years in jail.
The court also regretted that the Indian Penal Code did not provide stiff punishment for negligent act (IPC Section 269) and malignant act (IPC Section 270) likely to spread infection of disease leading to death pointing out that these two sections offered only six months and two years punishment respectively.
ASJ Lau also ordered the Delhi Government to pay Rs.2 lakh as compensation to the victim for her welfare through a welfare officer appointed by the Department of Women and Child Development (WCD). The possibility of the convict having transmitted some infection and disease to the victim while committing the ghastly act was also not ruled out by the court while awarding the punishment and the compensation. The infection could manifest itself at a later stage with the victim being in a window period now, the court said.
The incident came to light in August last year when the victim’s step-brother, who was also HIV-positive, was admitted to a hospital for treatment. When the 14-year-old girl started vomiting, tests conducted on her showed her to be pregnant and also suffering from a sexually transmitted disease. When questioned, she confessed to a nurse that since her mother’s death in January after succumbing to AIDS, her step-father was regularly raping her.
When the step-dad came to know about this, he visited the hospital and forced her to take abortion pills. The doctors reported the matter to the police and the step-father was arrested. Meanwhile, the girl suffered a miscarriage and forensic tests conducted on the aborted foetus showed that the biological father was the step-dad.
However, the girl under pressure from her family named a person that she was in love with who was then named as an accused in the case but was subsequently acquitted. The victim is in the custody of this person’s family at present.
The victim told the court that she was interested in joining a stitching course and become financially independent following which Ms. Lau asked the Delhi WCD Department to intercede with their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh to secure her admission for such a course run by an NGO at Ambedkar Nagar district in U.P.
The Judge also directed the SHO of Shalimar Bagh police station to produce the younger sister and the HIV-positive step-brother of the victim before a Child Welfare Committee as there was none to look after them.
The court also sought intervention of administrative and policing wings in ensuring that in cases of sexual assault, the medical examination of the accused should also test if he suffers from infections or diseases that can be sexually transmitted. The court said this would help book the accused under appropriate charges and protect the victim through providing necessary treatment at the earliest if required.
Ms. Lau also recommended direct legislation to deal with the issues relating to disclosure of sexually transmitted disease status; of recklessly endangering life of another; of depraved indifference to the life of another; and aggravated sexual assault.