An autorickshaw driver who raped a kindergarten student and an ice candy vendor who raped and murdered a six-year-old were sentenced to death on Friday, taking to eight the number of persons given death by Madhya Pradesh courts after quick trials this year. The death sentences are an upshot of the Centre’s law providing for death penalty for rapists of girls below the age of 12, which was rolled out in April following countrywide outrage over a series of cases, including the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
The kindergarten student from Katni town told her mother on July 4 that the “auto vale bhaiyya” kissed her, penetrated her with his finger, beat her and asked not to disclose it to anyone. Two days later, her family filed a police complaint against 35-year-old driver Rajkumar Kol, who drove the girl to school daily. After the girl’s medical examination, the police arrested Kol on July 7. The chargesheet was filed on July 18 and after a quick trial, additional district judge (POCSO court) Madhuri Raj Lalji sentenced Kol to death under Section 376 AB of the IPC on Friday.
The order said: “The victim’s unnatural mental state after the incident classifies the crime as the rarest of the rare. The primary assault of the rape was on the victim’s body but it has left a permanent impact on her mental state and behaviour because of the beastly act.’’
The judge further said, “If the victim were to realise in her lifetime that the man who assaulted her is alive and if she, or a minor girl known to her, were to meet him, her mental agony would be akin to death.’’
The judgment records a quick progression between crime and punishment, reflecting the Union cabinet’s time cap of two months for probe and another two months for trial.
In the second case, Jitendra Kushwah was given double death sentence by a Gwalior court for raping and killing a six-year-old girl he had lured from a wedding hall in the intervening night of June 20 and 21.
The police arrested Kushwah on June 22, and filed the chargesheet 10 days later. In the trial lasting 13 days, 33 witnesses, including Forensic Science Laboratory officials, the victim’s parents, police and school teachers were examined. Kushwah, who was produced in the court only twice, first claimed innocence but later confessed to the crime.
Additional district and sessions judge Archana Singh handed the death sentence under Sections 376 AB and 302 of the IPC. Kushwah was also sentenced to seven years each for kidnapping and destroying evidence. The jail authorities did not bring the 25-year-old to the special court, fearing assault by advocates, and the judge carried out the sentencing through video-conferencing.
Additional district public prosecutor Anil Mishra told The Indian Express that CCTV footage showing the ice candy vendor going with the victim and returning alone proved crucial for the conviction. The victim’s body was found around 9 am after a frantic search by relatives. DNA reports too were conclusive, he said.
These verdicts take the total number of death sentences awarded this year in the state for rape of under-12 girls to 8.
On July 7, a 40-year-old man who raped a nine-year-old in a temple at Rehli in Sagar district on May 21 was sentenced to death. Bhaggi alias Narayan Patel was arrested on May 22 and booked under sections of the IPC and POCSO Act. The police filed a chargesheet within 72 hours of the crime. The victim was on her way to a relative’s place when he lured her to the temple in a field close to her house. After she cried out, her relatives saw him running away.
On May 12, a special court in Indore sentenced to death a man who sexually assaulted and killed a four-month-old on April 19.