THE SUPREME Court has upheld the death penalty awarded to a man found guilty of raping and killing a two-year-old girl, daughter of a fruit seller, in Maharashtra in March 2012.
A three-judge bench, by a majority verdict of 2:1, upheld the death sentence. While Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant upheld the death sentence, Justice Subhash Reddy while upholding the conviction modified the sentence to life imprisonment.
The majority ruling took note of the fact that Parliament had amended the POCSO Act and introduced the death penalty for brutal rape of children aged below 12.
It said “if Parliament, armed with adequate facts and figures, has decided to introduce capital punishment for the offence of sexual abuse of a child, the Court hitherto will bear in mind the latest Legislative Policy even though it has no applicability in a case where the offence was committed prior thereto”.
The court noted that the “victim was barely a two-year-old baby whom the appellant kidnapped and apparently kept on assaulting over 4-5 hours till she breathed her last… He ruthlessly finished a life which was yet to bloom”.
“The appellant instead of showing fatherly love, affection and protection to the child against the evils of society, rather made her the victim of lust. It’s a case where trust has been betrayed and social values are impaired,” it noted.
Justice Reddy, however, said, “I am clear in my mind that in this case on hand, the mitigating circumstances of the appellant, dominate over the aggravating circumstances, to modify the death sentence to that of life imprisonment. Even as per the case of prosecution, the appellant was under influence of liquor at the time of committing the offence, and there is no evidence on record from the side of prosecution, to show that there is no possibility of reformation and rehabilitation of the appellant.”