For adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, the High Court can impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than 10 years to the accused in a gang rape case, the Madras High Court has observed.
The HC reduced the sentence from 10 years to three years rigorous imprisonment to four persons accused of raping a minor girl in 2006.
Justice G Jayachandran made the observation and reduced the sentence while partly allowing a criminal appeal from Palani, S Jayakumar, S Manibarathi @ Varadarajan and P Gopinath, who sought to quash the judgment and sentence passed
by a Mahila court here in March, 2013.
The case of the Anti-Vice Squad in Chintadripet was Saravanan, who is absconding, had induced a 16 year-old girl, who wanted to act in films, took her to a bungalow at Kolathur here in the first week of December 2006.
She was introduced to Palani (A 1) and Jayakumar (A2). They offered her cool drinks, consuming which she became semi-conscious.
All the three sexually assaulted her. It was repeated in the subsequent instances also when the other two — Manibharathi and Gopinath — got acquainted in the case and they were also included as accused.
Following a belated complaint from the family of the victim girl, the four were arrested by the Anti-Vice squad and the trial court which found them guilty of offence under Sec. 376 of the IPC, convicted and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years with a fine of Rs 15,000 each in March 2013. Hence, the present appeal.
Partly allowing the appeal, the judge said that the overt act of the appellants 1 and 2 along with absconding accused Saravanan involving in the gang rape of the victim girl was proved beyond doubt. Therefore, the accused persons are liable to be punished under Section 376(2)(g) of the IPC, where the minimum sentence is 10 years.
However, for adequate and special reasons, to be mentioned in the judgment, the court can impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than 10 years, the judge said.
As far as Manibharathi was concerned, the judge noted that the act of sexual violation on the victim girl was done individually at his home and does not fall within the meaning of gang rape to be punished under Section 376(2)(g) of I.P.C. Likewise, Gopinath (A4), who was alleged to have committed rape along with Ramu (A6 in the FIR) at a lodge near Puzhal. The said Ramu is not an accused in this case and the case against Ramu has been split up, the judge noted.
“Through the witnesses, the prosecution has proved the commission of crime by these appellants with the help of the absconding accused Saravanan, who in a sense acted as a pimp and exploited the victim girl for his material benefit. These appellants had fallen prey and had satisfied their carnal pleasure….with the minor girl.
“Attributing knowledge of presumption is through inference, since the accused in Sec. 313 of the CrPC proceedings have not pleaded ignorance of the victim’s age but had only denied incriminating evidence as false. Considering the said fact and the reasons stated above, this court while exercising the power conferred under proviso to Sec. 376 of the IPC, the sentence of 10 years R.I is modified as three years R.I, with fine of Rs.15,000/-, in default, six months simple imprisonment,” the judge said.