She was 12 years old when she was kidnapped by a 54-year-old woman and put on a train to Aligarh. When she tried escaping, she was set ablaze; the incident scarring her for life. She is now 18 and, over the past six years, the woman responsible for her state has been convicted of the offence.
However, the incident forced her father to sell his land and his auto-rickshaw, his only source of livelihood, to fund her treatment. But last week, observing that it is the duty of a court to look into “the aspect of restorative justice”, a local court recommended that the victim be compensated for her entire medical treatment by the state.
Despite the defence counsel requesting a lenient view on the punishment to the convict, considering her health, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Girish Kathpalia observed, “On one hand is the accused who is a lady suffering with various age-related ailments and, on the other hand, before me is a young girl presently aged about 18 years, who suffered wrongful confinement followed by an attempted murder… It is not difficult to visualise the kind of insecurity, fear and excruciating pain this girl of about 12 years of age would have undergone on being burnt, that too after she was kidnapped”.
“…As per unchallenged medical evidence, the victim suffered 30 per cent burn injuries on her lower face, neck, anterior aspect of chest, abdomen above umblicus, back upper half, bilateral arms and some patching areas over bilateral forearm…The victim also had to discontinue her studies. Looking into the socio-economic status of the victim and the extent and nature of injuries, it cannot be disputed there will be extreme difficulty for the victim in getting married,” the court said.
Asserting how any liberal approach in the case would be “extremely inappropriate”, the court ordered that the convict be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of 10 years and that she pay a fine of Rs 50,000. The money will be given to the victim.
“… It is also the duty, and not merely a discretion of the court, to look into the aspect of restorative justice… I am not oblivious that the amount awarded in the form of fine imposed on the convict… would be a pittance… In my view, the victim also deserves to be compensated from the state fund under the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme 2011 and for that purpose, a copy of this order of recommendation be sent to the Delhi Legal Services Authority…,” the court said.