A special POCSO Court in Patna sentenced a school principal to death for raping an 11-year-old student of the school. Additional Sessions Judge Awadhesh Kumar sentenced the teacher who conspired with the principal by video shooting the incident and blackmailing the girl to life imprisonment.
The case was that the 11-year-old girl was regularly called by the principal of the school under pretext of checking her handwriting and sexually abused a few times, while the other accused, a teacher at the school videographed the incident to blackmail the girl. As a result of this incident, the girl was impregnated. It was also stated that the offence was committed by holding the girl at knife point.
The accused took the defence that due to non-payment of School fee, by the parents of the victim, an altercation arose and the accused persons were falsely implicated in this case.
The court, after perusal of evidence and material brought on record, held both, the principal as well as the teacher to be guilty of gang rape on woman under 12 years of age under section 376 of IPC, aggravated penetrative sexual assault under section 5 and section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, as well as section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
While considering the sentencing of both convicts, the court cited Supreme Court judgement in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Babbu Barkar @ Dalap Singh 2005 (2) J.C.C. 1138 wherein it was held that “Justice demands that Courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that the Courts reflect public abhorrence of the crime. The Court must not only keep in view the rights of the criminal but also the rights of the victim of rape and society at large while considering the imposition of appropriate punishment.”
The court observed that “legislative amendment to provide for a greater sentence, for an aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child, reflects the conscience of the society and its higher degree of intolerance towards such offences”.
The court while considering the quantum of the sentence cited Sewaka Perumal v. State of Tamil Nadu [(1991) 3 SCC 471)] whereby the apex court had held that, “Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system to undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law, and society cannot long endure under serious threats… It is, therefore, the duty of every court to award proper sentence having regard to the nature of offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed etc.”
The court thus sentenced the principal to death for commission of rape and other offences, and the teacher, who was convicted for conspiracy and acting with common intention was sentenced to life imprisonment. A fine of Rs. 50,000, to be paid to the survivor.
The court, further, awarded Rs. 15 lakh as compensation to the survivor in accordance with Protection of Children from Sexual offences Rules, 2020, as well as Bihar Victim Compensation Amendment Scheme, 2019. The court observed that while upper limit for compensation in case of gang rape is Rs. 10 lakh, since the girl was 11 years old she was entitled to 50% enhanced compensation.
The court directed that a reference to Patna High Court be sent for approval of the death sentence imposed on the convict.
In conclusion, the court also appreciated the professional acumen with which Bihar police conducted the investigation.