The Delhi High Court has upheld an order of a trial court which had convicted a man and sentenced him to 20-year jail for raping his minor step-daughter and making her pregnant.
"The prosecutrix (minor girl) was under the care of the appellant (convict) and he had committed repeated sexual assaults on the child, resulting in the child becoming pregnant," a single-judge bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru said and dismissed the appeal filed by a man challenging a trial court judgement dated August 2, 2016.
"The FSL report leaves no room for doubt that the petitioner had committed the offence for which he was charged. Thus, the prosecution has established its case beyond any reasonable doubt and therefore, the impugned judgment convicting the appellant for committing the offence punishable under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) and Section 506 Indian Penal Code cannot be interfered with and is upheld," the court said.
On August 2, 2016, a trial court convicted the appellant for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child victim - an offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. On August 9, 2016, the appellant was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of twenty years with a fine of Rs 5,000.
The man was prosecuted pursuant to registration of an FIR under sections 323/376/506 of the IPC and Section 4 of the POCSO Act with Police Station Shahbad Dairy.
The FIR was registered on August 7, 2014, pursuant to the statement made by a 13-year-old girl, alleging that the appellant - who is her stepfather - had forcibly raped her multiple times and had threatened that he would kill her if she disclosed the same to anybody.
The Delhi High Court, in its 21-page judgement, noted that the victim is consistent in her allegation that the appellant used to beat her and rape her.
"Her allegations have been sufficiently corroborated by the forensic evidence brought on record. Thus, even though the prosecutrix may not qualify to be a sterling witness, the allegations made by her against the appellant, stand fully proved," the court noted.
"It is also relevant to note that Section 6 of the POCSO Act was amended by virtue of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019, with effect from 16.08.2019 and the minimum punishment for committing an aggravated penetrative sexual assault was increased to rigorous imprisonment, for a term not less than twenty years. Since the offence was committed prior to 16.08.2019, there is no bar for imposing a punishment less than twenty years of rigorous imprisonment, but keeping the legislative intent in mind, the sentence awarded by the trial court cannot be stated to be manifestly erroneous," the court said.
"In the facts of the present case, this court is unable to accept that the sentence awarded to the appellant suffers from any error and requires any reduction," it added.