Court: depraved acts call for only one sentence — death

J. Venkatesan

5-year-old raped and murdered; cruel bid to camouflage crime

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has slapped death sentence on a man who raped and murdered a five-year-old girl and attempted to cover up the crime as an accident. It asked trial courts and High Courts to award exemplary punishment for offences against women.

“Rape is violation with violence of the private person of a woman — an outrage by all means. By the very nature of the offence it is an obnoxious act of the highest order. The physical scar may heal, but the mental scar will always remain. When a woman is ravished, what is inflicted is not merely physical injury but the deep sense of some deathless shame,” said a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and M.K. Sharma.

Writing the judgment, Justice Pasayat said: “The fact that sweeping changes were introduced in the statute reflects the legislative intent to curb with an iron hand the offence of rape, which affects the dignity of a woman. The law regulates social interests, arbitrates conflicting claims and demands.”

The Bench said: “Security of persons and property of the people is an essential function of the state. It could be achieved through the instrumentality of criminal law. Undoubtedly, there is a cross-cultural conflict where living law must find an answer to the new challenges and the courts are required to mould the sentencing system to meet the challenges. The contagion of lawlessness would undermine social order and lay it in ruins.”

The Bench said: “Protection of society and stamping out criminal proclivity must be the object of law which must be achieved by imposing appropriate sentence. Therefore, law as the cornerstone of the edifice of order should meet the challenges confronting society. By a deft modulation, the sentencing process be stern where it should be, and tempered with mercy where it warrants to be.”

The Bench said: “Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law, and society could not long endure under such serious threats. It is, therefore, the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of the offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed, etc.”

The judges said: “It is expected that the courts would operate the sentencing system so as to impose such sentence which reflects the conscience of society and the sentencing process has to be stern where it should be. The court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been committed not only against the individual victim but also against the society to which the criminal and the victim belong.”

In the instant case, Bantu was awarded death sentence by an Agra trial court for raping and killing a child. On appeal, the Allahabad High Court confirmed the death sentence.

Dismissing his appeal against this judgment and confirming the death sentence, the Supreme Court pointed out that “in order to camouflage the serious kind of rape in a planned manner and after committing rape, the appellant mercilessly inserted a wooden stick deep inside the fragile vagina of the girl to the extent of 33 cm to cause her death, with a view to masquerading the crime as an accident. The case falls in the rarest of rare category. The depraved acts of the accused call for only one sentence — that is death sentence.”

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