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HC upholds conviction of man for raping minor 18 years ago

Observing that heinous offences like rape of a minor girl cannot be treated with laxity especially after the 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident, the Bombay High Court has upheld the conviction of a 37-year-old man for raping a teenager 18 years ago.

In the order passed last week, Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed the appeal filed by the man, who was 19 years old at the time of the incident, challenging an order passed by the Pune sessions court that convicted him for raping the girl, who was 16 years old then.

The sessions court, in its order passed in February 2002, had sentenced him to seven years jail in the case.

The high court ordered him to surrender before the sessions court in Pune within a month to undergo his sentence period.

The man in his appeal in the HC claimed that he was in a consensual relationship with the girl, who at that time was 18 years old.

The prosecution, however, claimed that the girl was only 16 years old and that the accused had forced himself on her. It relied on the girl’s statement to prove this.

Justice Dangre, after hearing the arguments, observed that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and dismissed the appeal.

“A heinous offence like rape committed on a minor girl cannot be looked at with laxity and merely because it was an offence involving only her body the same cannot be brushed aside lightly,” Justice Dangre said in her judgment.

It is well known that after the unfortunate Nirbhaya rape case, Parliament was justified in amending penal laws and made the offence of rape punishable with a higher penalty, the court said.

“…since then the violation of a woman’s right has been considered to be a gross violation of individual liberty and has been dealt with sternly,” Justice Dangre said.

In this particular case, the victim was a child of 16 years age, who enjoyed a right to blossom into a woman and to step into womanhood in a dignified and graceful way and not being trampled in the manner in which she was ushered into womanhood, the ruling said.

“A girl child has a right to live her life with dignity. She has a right to good health, physical as well as mental, has a right to equal opportunity with the male child to develop into a matured independent woman,” Justice Dangre said.

She also has a right to make a decision or choice, which includes the right to deny sexual intercourse to a person, the court said.

The court ordered the convict, who is out on bail, to surrender before the sessions court in Pune within four weeks to undergo his sentence period.

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