In a first in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court Tuesday confirmed death penalty awarded to a man for raping and killing a five-year-old girl in Vashi last year. Dattatraya Rokde (53) was convicted and sentenced under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) coupled with sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA) in June 2013.
Ruling out the possibility of reformation, the High Court said Rokde would be a “menace” to society and termed the case as “rarest of rare”.
The victim had gone missing from her home in Navi Mumbai on January 22, 2013. According to the police, Rokde lured the girl to his house and raped her. He later smothered her with a pillow, stuffed her body in a gunny bag and dumped it in front of her house.
A division bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and V L Achliya observed that Rokde had attacked the minor girl with brutality and killed her in the “most cruel” manner. “The brutality with which the accused attacked the girl shows that he committed the crime with the intention of bodily injury, which was likely to cause the death of the minor,” they said.
“It is only the case of death penalty,” the judges said, adding, “He had a tendency of committing crimes of such nature.”
Citing the Delhi gangrape, the court said such cases are required to be dealt with an iron hand. In the court’s view, Rokde was a habitual offender who had earlier committed acts of molestation and marital rape. “He would forcibly have sexual intercourse with his wife without her consent,” the judges observed.
Additional Public Prosecutor Usha Kejariwal relied on the statements of 27 witnesses in the case. According to the prosecution, the statements of Rokde’s son and wife to police played a key role in nailing him. Rokde’s son had told the police that he suspected his father of the crime. His wife, in her statement, had said that Rokde confessed to his crime when she asked him why he seemed stressed.
The court observed that Rokde had failed to explain in any manner his defence against incriminating circumstantial evidence.
The defence cited five Supreme Court judgments and a judgment of the Bombay High Court where death penalties were commuted to imprisonment for life.
The judges, however, differentiated each case from the present one. Pointing out one such difference, the court observed, “In the present case, the girl had hardly seen five summers.”
The court also expressed disgust over the nature of injuries found on the victim’s body.
According to the judges, offences were made under sections 302 (murder), 376 (2) (f) (rape committed on minor), 377 (unnatural sex) among other relevant sections of the IPC along with Section 3 (penetrative sexual assault) 5 (i) (penetrative sexual assault causing grievous hurt) (l) (committing penetrative sexual assault more than once) and (m) (penetrative sexual assault on a child below 12 years).
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