Millennium Post

Timely justice

Timely justice

A sessions court in Mandsaur on Tuesday awarded double death sentence to two accused of gangrape and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl. This is the 13 death sentence given for sexual offence in the Madhya Pradesh, and sixth under POCSO Act. Special judge (POCSO) Nisha Gupta awarded the sentence to the accused Asif (24) and Irfan (20). The accused have been granted death sentence under section 376AB, the newly included sections in the Indian Penal Code, providing for the death sentence for persons committing rape with victims under 12 years of age and also under section 376D, punishment for gangrape. The victim, a class 2 student, was lured by the two youth while she was waiting to be picked up by her family members at the school gate. She was taken to a secluded placed and raped. The accused also slit her throat and left her to die. However, the girl with injuries all over her body was found by a neighbour the next day. Following the incident, thousands of angry protestors took to the streets in Mandsaur and other towns of Madhya Pradesh. The police were able to nab the accused in just two days and filed the charge sheet on July 12. In view of the sensitive nature of the case, the state government was monitoring the progress of the case. The court took less than two months to decide the case.

Of late, there has been a spurt in sexual crime against minors, forcing some of the state governments to enact laws providing for stricter punishment for the same. The MP government has also enacted a law that provides for the death penalty for sexual offences with minors under the age of 12 years. The provision to set up special courts for the trial of cases under the POCSO Act has also been put to use in the present case. A quick police investigation and the speedy trial have ensured that the entire judicial process was completed within two months since the case was reported on June 26. The low conviction rate in POCSO was one of the main reasons for the Increasing number of sexual crimes against minors. In this light, the quick judgement delivered by the Mandsaur Sessions court is a step in the right direction. The court has awarded the maximum punishment of death penalty to the accused in this case and this would certainly instil a sense of fear in the rapist, who have so far been taking undue advantage of the slow and complicated judicial process that takes years before arriving at a judgement. Usually, the police investigations in these cases are full of loopholes and the witnesses often turn hostile after years of court proceedings.

As the Mandsaur case, among many other similar cases, points out that children remain most vulnerable to sexual offences, there is a greater need for the police administration to be more vigilant for their safety. By creating awareness among the children to remain more careful about strangers offering them help, the police can create a safer environment for them. The police can rope in parents and school administration in their efforts to sensitise the children about the possible harms that can happen to them. Once a crime is reported, the police and the courts need to work in a result-oriented manner and ensure that the accused is not only caught but also punished by the law. So far, there is an environment of impunity where criminals do not seem to care about the consequences of their crime. This is because the courts take a long time to go through the different stages of the judicial process and during the period the course of law is twisted and circumvented. This needs to be changed in order to restore and strengthen people's faith in the judiciary.

After some of the recent rape incidents in which the victims were brutalised and killed, the government has enacted the stricter law to deal with the crime. Compared to the maximum seven years of imprisonment earlier, now the rape convicts can face life imprisonment and even the death penalty. Both gangrape and rape of minors under the age of 12 years attract a death penalty. Now, there is a stringent legal framework and this coupled with stricter laws and a proactive police and judicial process, the trend of rising sexual crime against women and minor children can be effectively tackled. Out of the 14 death penalties given by the courts in Madhya Pradesh this year, 13 relate to sexual crimes, underscoring the trend of rising number of sexual crimes in the state. By and large, the situation is the same everywhere in the country and the government needs to address the issue on a more urgently.

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