The Madhya Pradesh HC upheld the death penalty awarded to two men who were accused of gang-raping an eight-year-old girl. The offence of gang rape itself is a very unpardonable and despicable crime and to put the further condition of the victim being in a vegetative state for granting death sentence would be asking for a lot, observed by a bench comprising of Judges Vivek Rusia and Shailendra Shukla. The court also noted that the rights of the victim could not be neglected while considering the rights of the accused. In this case, the accused Irfan and Asif were found guilty and sentenced to death by a Trial Court under section 376DB of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 376DB, a provision adopted by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, provides that ‘when a woman under the age of 12 is raped by one or more persons who form a group or acting in the advancement of same intention, each of those persons shall be convicted of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment, which means imprisonment for the remainder of the person’s life, with fine, or with death. ‘
Prosecutors were accused of kidnapping the girl from the school. The girl was found in an injured condition and later she told police that on the day of the incident after the school was closed, she was waiting outside the school when someone came and forcibly put some laddu (sweet) in her mouth and took her to a secluded place. Then, subsequently, she was undressed and forcibly raped by the person who took her while another man held her hands. After the investigation, the suspects were caught and identified by the girl.
Dismissing their appeal, the Madhya Pradesh HC, on examining the evidence on record which also included the DNA report, said it was clear through the evidence that the prosecutrix, who was under the age of 12 at the time of the incident, was subjected to violent gang rape by the accused.
One of the issues that were considered by the bench was whether the death penalty should have been awarded only if the prosecutrix was left in a vegetative state?
Section 376 (A) of the IPC provides that the death penalty can be imposed when the victim is left in a vegetative condition. There is no such mention in Section 376 (DB) of the IPC. The offence of gang rape itself is a very unpardonable and despicable crime and to put the further condition of the victim being in a vegetative state for granting death sentence would be asking for a lot, which is clearly not the intention of the legislature in any case”.
While upholding the death penalty, the bench said that the accused showed no remorse, acted in a cold-blooded manner and followed their natural routine after committing the heinous crime, which shows that they were already hardened into such perverts with such criminal mindset, that they were devoid of any emotion or care for a small girl child. ‘