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Uttarakhand HC Recommends Govt To Enact Legislation For Awarding Death Penalty For Rape Of Girls Aged 15 Years Or Below

 To begin with, a heinous crime like rape deserves zero tolerance and must be awarded the strictest punishment. Rape of girls who are aged 15 years or below is the worst crime and just like gang rape must be awarded nothing but the death penalty. There can be no justification for awarding a lenient punishment for it.
                                              Truth be told, this is exactly what the Uttarakhand High Court also ruled in its landmark ruling at the starting of January which is really commendable and deserves applaud. While confirming the death sentence handed down to a man for raping and murdering an 8-year-old girl in 2016, the Uttarakhand High Court in State of Uttarakhand Versus Karandeep Sharma @ Razia @ Raju in Criminal Reference No. 1 of 2017 with Criminal Appeal No. 156 of 2017 in its landmark judgment delivered on January 5, 2018 recommended strongly the state government to enact in three months a suitable legislation for awarding death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls of 15 years or below. Very rightly so!
                                  While craving for the exclusive indulgence of esteemed readers, it must be informed here that a Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh confirmed the death sentence awarded to a convict named Karandeep Sharma who had shamelessly perpetrated the most heinous crime of rape and that too on a minor girl and thus causing her death due to pain! While dismissing his appeal and confirming the punishment, the Uttarakhand High Court expressed its grave concern about the burgeoning number of cases of crime against children in Uttarakhand. Such heinous crime deserve no sympathy and those who indulge in it must be awarded the most strictest punishment always and every time they commit it!
                                              How can such a horrifying crime be viewed sympathetically? How can such offenders be allowed to escape with a very light punishment? How can any punishment less than death sentence be justified under any circumstances?
                                           For esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, it must also be informed here that the Bench of Uttarakhand High Court while delivering a landmark judgment in this case held clearly and categorically that, “In the present case, the convict took the victim along with him. He committed rape upon her. She died during the intercourse. Thus, it was a calculated, cold-blooded and the brutal murder of an eight years’ old girl by the appellant after committing rape on her. Thus, no lenient view can be taken.” Very rightly so! There can be no denying it!    
                     Facts of the case
                               To recapitulate the entire sequence of events that led to this horrifying crime, let us start from the beginning. The victim had gone to attend a jagran with her family on the intervening night of June 25-26, 2016. While the victim’s mother and brother came back home at 1.30 am, she, her cousin and neighbour’s daughter and many children from the neighbourhood stayed back.
                                  In the morning of June 26, 2016, the victim’s father noted that she had not returned and lodged an FIR. He tried his best to trace her. When he was searching for the victim, someone told him that the body of a child was lying in the nearby field.
                                        As it turned out, he identified the body as that of his daughter. It seemed that the child was raped before being killed. Many independent persons came forward stating that they had seen the girl leaving with a person wearing thick lens of glasses who was working in the jagran as electrician.
                                   Going forward, the DNA from the body fluids found on the clothes of the victim matched with that of the convict. He was booked for offences of rape, kidnapping etc under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act, and held guilty by the fast track court. Very rightly so!
                     Rarest Of Rare
                                  It cannot be lost on us that the Bench took special note of the submission of the doctor who conducted the post-mortem to say that the victim died due to asphyxia as a result of commission of rape. The doctor had further opined that as a result of commission of rape, the victim has undergone acute pain and shock and due to exertion of pressure, she was suffocated. The internal organs of the victim i.e. brain, liver, spleen and kidneys were congested.
                                       “In the instant case, the convict was depraved. He took away the girl from the religious construction. The convict stifled the victim by placing his hand on her mouth when she was forcibly raped. The cause of the death of victim is excessive pain leading to shock,” said the court denying any leniency and applying the principle of proportionality. Very rightly so! Such heinous crime offenders must be punished swiftly and strictly!
                                   Simply put, the Bench of Uttarakhand High Court held in no uncertain terms that, “The appellant has taken advantage of her young age and he committed rape upon the victim causing her death. Recoveries were effected from the convict. The act of the convict falls within the category of ‘rarest of rare’ cases. The convict was a married person.” Who can deny or dispute this? No one can!
                                           Needless to say, the Bench relied on the landmark Supreme Court judgment in Nathu Garam Vs State of UP (1979) 3 SCC 366 where the Apex Court rejected the appeal by the counsel for the appellant for lesser punishment as it did not find any extenuating or mitigating circumstances justifying the lesser punishment and strongly upheld the death sentence imposed upon the convict for causing death of a 14-year-old girl after luring her into the house for committing criminal assault. It also cited the Supreme Court case of Laxman Naik Vs State of Orissa (1994) 3 SCC 381 where the Apex Court upheld the death sentence by treating the case falling under the category of ‘Rarest of rare cases’, as it was a case of calculated, cold-blooded and brutal murder of a 7-year-old girl by her own uncle after committing rape on her.
                                          To be sure, while applying the principle of proportionality, the Bench relied on 2008 Supreme Court verdict in Shivaji @ Dadya Shankar Alhat Vs State of Maharashtra (2008) 15 SCC 269 to say that punishment awarded for a crime must nbot be irrelevant, but it should conform to and be consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public abhorrence and it should ‘respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminal’.
             Law for death if rape victim is under 15
                                    Before parting with the judgment, the Bench took note of “ever increasing crime against the children in the State of Uttarakhand”. It took notice of the report of National Crime Records Bureau under the caption “Crime Against Children (States & UTs)” for the year 2016, which says 489 cases were registered in the year 2014, 635 cases were registered in the year 2015 and 676 cases were registered in the year 2016. The Bench worryingly remarked that the ratio of cases of rape upon children is disproportionately large vis-à-vis the population of State of Uttarakhand. There can be no denying it!
                                    In essence, the Bench in the concluding part of its landmark judgment remarked that, “The Court is coming across a number of cases where the victims, aged 15 years or below, are being raped and murdered. There should be deterrence. Though, it is for the State Government to bring an appropriate legislation to impose death sentence upon the convicts who are found guilty in cases of rape, however, the Court can always make suggestions/recommendations to the State Government to bring a suitable Legislation to impose a stringent sentence upon the persons who are found guilty in the cases of committing rape on the victims aged 15 years or below. Accordingly, we recommend/suggest to the State Government to enact suitable legislation for awarding death sentence to those found guilty of raping girls aged 15 years or belowwithin three months.”
                                     In conclusion, it can be said that it was this landmark judgment which propelled the Uttarakhand State Government to enact a law providing death penalty for rape of girls aged 15 years or below! There can be no two opinions about the indisputable fact that every State Government must similarly enact a law. It brooks no more delay now!
                                       All said and done, there has to be zero tolerance for heinous crime like rape and that too against minor girls! There can be no attenuating or mitigating circumstance for such heinous crime like rape and those who dare to indulge in it must be always awarded only and only death penalty and nothing else! Here too the punishment must be implemented in the shortest possible time and not after many decades! Only then will a loud and clear message go across to all such rapists that if they dare to rape, no lawyer, no Judge and no Court would come to their rescue and award any sentence other than death!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.

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