Over two years after an accused booked for sexually abusing a minor feigned his own death to evade trial, a special court on Tuesday sentenced him to seven years in jail. The court found the 32-year-old guilty under Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for aggravated sexual assault. After being granted bail in 2015, a death certificate was submitted before court in 2018 claiming that the accused had died.
On April 7, 2015, the accused, who lived in the same neighbourhood as the three-year-old victim, had taken her home while she was playing outside and sexually abused her. The victim’s mother began looking for her daughter and on finding only one house closed in the vicinity, knocked on it. The accused opened the door and the victim was found inside crying.
The accused was arrested with the help of locals on the same day and was granted bail in August. While he attended trial till April 2018, he stopped coming to court thereafter. The police had informed the court that the accused had claimed to have gone to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh as his father had passed away but has been absconding since. The court had then issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
In November 2018, a man came to the court stating that he was the accused’s brother. He submitted a death certificate and claimed that his brother had died. The court called for a report from the prosecution about this as in case of an accused’s death, the proceedings would be stopped. Officials from the Worli police station went to the accused’s hometown and found him alive. He was then rearrested and brought back to the city. The Indian Express had reported in 2019 that the court had directed the police to continue the probe into the false death certificate. Special public prosecutor Geeta Sharma had applied for permission for a fresh FIR to be registered against the accused on charges of cheating and forgery.
The court considered evidence including statements of the victim, her mother, DNA evidence which was positive to find the accused guilty under POCSO Act. The court acquitted the accused on charges of rape.
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