The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court on Monday confirmed a rare double-death and double-life sentence given to a 21-year-old man for the rape and murder of a two-year-old girl. The sentence was the first of its kind, given under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code, under an amendment made in light of the gruesome Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi.
Double-death and double life sentence
A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Prasanna Varale confirmed the verdict of a Yavatmal sessions court sentencing Shatrughan Masram to death for raping and murdering his two-year-old niece on February 11, 2013. Besides capital punishment under Section 376A, Masram was awarded another death sentence under Section 302 of IPC for murder by the Yavatmal court. He was also sentened to two life terms under Section 376 (2) (f) (i) (m) (rape) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012.
No leniency for young age
The high court also turned down Masram’s contention for leniency considering his young age, making it clear that it can’t be mitigating circumstance in cases of extreme depravity. The court also categorised the case as “rarest of rare”, which under a legal precedent is critical precedent for the awarding of death penalty.
The incident took place in Ghatanji town of Yavatmal. The two-year-old victim belonged to a poor family of labourers from Andhra Pradesh, who had arrived in Ghatanji just four months before the incident. The girl’s parents had left her at the house of a relative on the day of the incident, where they had gone for a local temple festival. Masram had taken the girl around 7:30 pm to a construction site and raped her. The girl died on the spot. Her parents, who had been searching for her, found her with Masram, who was attempting to escape. The girl was immediately taken to a doctor, who pronounced her dead. The assault had been brutal – Masram had torn flesh off her body with his teeth and there were bite marks all over her body.
Yavatmal sessions court judge AC Chaphale on August 14 sentenced Masram to death on two counts under the amended Section 376 of IPC, to which capital punishment had been included after the Nirbhaya case. After hearing testimonies of 13 witnesses, the trial court also awarded him a rare double lifer while tersely observing that accused would continue to be a menace to the society.
New definition of the amended Section 376A: Whoever, commits an offence punishable under sub-section (1) or subsection (2) of Section 376, and in the course of such commission, inflicts an injury which causes the death of a woman or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Source- times of india October 13, 2015