Chandigarh, Jan 24 (PTI) A court in Panchkula, Haryana, on Friday awarded life term, but not for the remainder of his life, to a teenage convict in the rape and murder case of a five-year-old girl.
The court on January 18 convicted the boy, who will be turning 18 later this year, for raping and brutally killing the girl in broad daylight in a vacant land behind an 8-foot wall near a private school in Sector 14 Panchkula in May 2019.
The "child in conflict with law" (as such convicts are referred to under Juvenile Justice Act), who was her neighbour, had killed the girl after smashing her head with a brick.
The incident had come to light after the parents searched for the girl and found her body in the empty plot.
On Friday, Additional Sessions Judge Narender Sura awarded the punishment to the convict.
In his judgment, the judge observed that the convict took the girl under the pretext of 'Kanjak Poojan' and committed gruesome offences with "highest viciousness".
He committed the offences in a brutal manner, which has shocked the collective conscience of the community. "In such cases, sympathy in any form would be misplaced and it would shake the confidence of public in the administration of criminal justice system," the judge observed.
"We live in a civilized society where law and order is supreme and citizens enjoy inviolable fundamental human rights, but when these type of offences are committed, it causes ripples in the conscience of the society and serious doubts are raised as to whether we are really living in a civilized society".
Certainly, whenever such grave violations of human dignity come to fore, an unknown sense of insecurity and helplessness grabs entire society, particularly in women, and the only succour people look for, is the 'State' to take command of the situation and remedy it effectively, he said.
"We have a responsibility to set good values and guidance for posterity."
The child in conflict with law was convicted for the commission of the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 376-A IPC and Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
The convict's age is above 17 years, as per his own statement made before the court.
According to provisions contained in Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, no child in conflict with law shall be sentenced to death or for life imprisonment without possibility of release.
After hearing arguments from both sides and keeping in view the age, other antecedents of the convict and having due regard to the rival contentions of the parties, the convict is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and a fine of Rs 10,000 is imposed on the convict for commission of offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, said the judgment.
For commission of offence punishable under Section 376 A of IPC, the convict is sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and a fine of Rs 10,000 is imposed on the convict while for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC, the convict is sentenced to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 30,000.
"However, life imprisonment shall not be considered for remainder of natural life of the convict and he shall be entitled to remissions etc. as per the policy of the State as the convict cannot be sentenced to life term without possibility of release," he said.
All the sentences shall run concurrently.
As convict's age is less than 18, he shall be kept in Observation Home, Ambala, till he attains age of 18 years and then he shall be shifted to Special Home, Sonipat, and shall be kept therein till he turns 21 after which he shall be shifted to Central Jail, Ambala, the Judge ordered.
The public prosecutor submitted before the court that the offences committed by the convict are heinous as he had murdered a five-year-old girl after raping her and killed her in most brutal manner as he had struck her head against the stones lying in the park and also against the bark of a tree.
The prosecution submitted that the case falls in the category of "rarest of rare cases" and had prayed that death penalty may be awarded to the convict.
However, the defence counsel argued that the convict has no previous history of crime and his age is less than 18 and while praying for a lenient view, submitted that he may be released on probation. PTI SUN VSD ABH