A special court on Saturday sentenced to death a man nearly three weeks after he sexually assaulted and killed a three-month-old girl in Indore on April 20. The accused, Naveen alias Ajay Gadke, was angry over the refusal of the victim’s mother, his relative, to mediate in his marital dispute after his wife left him.
The victim was sleeping between her parents on a pavement near the main gate of Rajwada when the accused took her away. The accused took the infant to the basement of a commercial building where he assaulted her before throwing her down from a height. The police nabbed Naveen with the help of CCTV footages, in which he was seen taking the infant on his bicycle.
The incident had sparked outrage and the accused was assaulted in court during his first appearance. Gadge was sentenced to death under IPC Sections 376 and 302, and was awarded life sentence under provisions of the POCSO Act. Police had filed the 120-page chargesheet a week after the incident. No advocate was ready to defend the accused and he was provided legal help. Thirty-four of the 54 witnesses were examined during the trial that lasted only 13 days.
Fifth Additional District and Sessions Judge Varsha Sharma heard the final arguments on Thursday and delivered her judgment in a packed courtroom. Saying that the case was rarest of rare, the judge compared the brutality of the act to that of a wild animal.
District Prosecution Officer Mohammed Akram Shaikh said it was probably the first such rape and murder case where the trial lasted for only 13 days. After he was convicted, the accused, who did not have any previous crime record, told the court that he was innocent. He said he wanted to meet his mother and sister for the last time.
“There is no place for such people in any civil society,” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted after the verdict while praising the Indore police for speedy probe. In another tweet, he said Madhya Pradesh was the first state to bring a legislation to award death sentence to those convicted of raping girls aged 12 or below.