Friday, February 6, 2015

HIV rapist's death sentence commuted

Asseem Shaikh, TNN | Jun 19, 2014, 01.37AM IST PUNE: The Bombay High Court has commuted to life the death sentence awarded to a 29-year-old HIV patient, from Pune. He had raped his seven-year-old niece and then strangled her at Kasegaon village in Sangli in 2011. The bench comprising justices V K Tahilramani and V L Achliya observed, "There can be no doubt that the offence committed by the accused deserves severe condemnation and it is a heinous crime, but on looking at the cumulative facts and on balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case, we do not think that the case falls in the category of rarest of rare cases. Hence, we are not inclined to confirm the death sentence." On March 26, 2013, the district and sessions court at Islampur had convicted and sentenced him to death for raping and murdering the girl. The victim, a resident of Sangli, was studying in standard two in a local school. The prosecution's case is that on February 26, 2011, the man had taken the girl from school to Kalammawadi, near Kasegaon in Walva tehsil and raped her in a sugarcane field. He then strangled her and fled to Pune. When the girl did not come back from school, her mother told her husband. He inquired with the school teacher who had told him that she had gone with her maternal uncle. After a search, the girl's father registered a criminal case with the Kasegaon police station. The rapist was arrested after investigations revealed his involvement in the crime. The victim's body was recovered from the sugarcane field. The trial court had sentenced him to death under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He was sentenced to life imprisonment for rape under section 376 (2) (f) of the IPC. He was also sentenced to three years' rigorous imprisonment each for kidnapping and destroying evidence under sections 363 and 201 of the IPC. The trial court had sent a reference to the high court for confirming the death sentence. He had also filed a criminal appeal challenging the death sentence in the high court. Additional public prosecutor Mankuwar Deshmukh relied on aggravating circumstances to prove that the accused had brutally raped and murdered a defenceless girl. She pleaded to confirm death sentence as the girl was last seen in the company of the accused. She relied on the DNA report to prove that the blood stains found on the victim's frock matched his blood group. She submitted that the rapist was a habitual offender as he had two cases registered against him with the Chinchwad police station here in 2009 and 2011. The HC later found that he had been acquitted in both the cases. The HC appointed lawyer Abhaykumar Apte to represent the man from its legal aid committee. Apte argued that police had not recorded his statement to show that the dead body was recovered at his instance. He also challenged the identification parade of the accused on the grounds that the witnesses had seen him at the police station. The HC's observations Quoting several Supreme Court judgments, the HC bench said, "The man was suffering from HIV and this was the only mitigating circumstance in his favour for commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment." The HC also sought his doctor's advice on whether his life span will be that of an ordinary man if he continued with the medicines. While partly allowing his appeal, the HC on examining the evidence maintained his conviction under sections of the IPC, but commuted the death sentence given for murder to life imprisonment. The HC also commuted the life imprisonment awarded for rape to 10 years RI. However, both the sentences will run consecutively. The sentences of three years RI each awarded for kidnapping and destruction of evidence will run concurrently. The judgment was delivered on May 8 and posted on the HC website on June 18. Source: [last accessed 06.02.2015]

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