Additional district sessions judge Anshu Shukla on Friday awarded life imprisonment to three persons, including a woman, for the gruesome murder after rape of an 11-year-old Palsora girl whose body was found in a gunny bag dumped in a forest area in November 2013. The convicts are: Sunita alias Billy (31), Bhagat Singh alias Manga (26) and Rajkumar alias Raja (20). The fourth accused in the case, a juvenile, has been declared a proclaimed offender. While Sunita has been awarded life imprisonment, Bhagat and Rajkumar have been sentenced to life till death.
The court also imposed a fine of `1.10 lakh on the mastermind of the crime, Sunita, 31, a mother of four, after convicting her of murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and causing disappearance of evidence.
A fine of `1.6 lakh each was imposed on Bhagat Singh of Palsora and Rajkumar of Ram Darbar, who were convicted of murder, rape, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping, besides under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
"The convicts do not deserve leniency of any sort and are apt to stringent and exemplary punishment for the kidnapping, elimination of an innocent child after raping and committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on her," the court observed in its strong-worded order.
"Sunita had kept the minor girl in her custody and handed over her to the co-accused for eliminating her," the court said, while clarifying that the case however didn't fall in the rarest of rare category so as to warrant capital punishment.
Disbelieving the argument of the accused that they were falsely implicated, the court said, "the evidence on record convincingly established their unflinching role in hatching the conspiracy and its commission by them to the hilt without reasonable doubt."
Compensation to parents
As a compensation for the loss of their 11-year-old daughter, the court awarded a compensation of `4.30 lakh to the parents. The court said that the fine imposed on convicts, if realized, would be paid to victim's parents.
High drama in the court
Soon after the quantum of punishment was pronounced, Sunita collapsed on the court premises and hugged her children, who were crying. Sunita maintained that she was innocent. She had also collapsed on the day she was found guilty of the crime.
Amar Singh, the brother-in-law of Bhagat Singh, accused the UT police of falsely implicating the latter in the case. He said, "The name of my brother-in-law had figured among the notorious elements of the area and thus falsely implicated in the case." Amar Singh even unsuccessfully tried to reach out to the judge, who left the court premises under tight security. The kin of the convicts said they would appeal against the order in the higher court.
The defence counsel said the prosecution had failed to apprehend the real culprits. "We would be filing an appeal in the higher court since the case was wrongly contested by the prosecution," he said.
The case had made headlines in December last year when the girl's body was found in a gunny bag near Palsora on December 1.
According to the police, the victim was kidnapped from Palsora, Sector 56, on November 27 by Rajkumar and a juvenile, who has been declared a proclaimed offender.
The police claimed that the duo had kept the minor in the forest area near Sector 52 for at least three days, during which they abused her sexually, before killing her on November 29, 2013, night.
The recovery of the girl's body in gunny bag on December 1 led to protests in the city against police inaction and the girl's family had even refused to cremate her.
The police managed to crack the case after nearly a month with the arrest of the duo who was arrested by the SAS Nagar police in some other case. Based on their disclosure, the police then arrested Sunita and Bhagat Singh.
November 27, 2013: 11-year-old girl kidnapped
November 29: Victim killed after being raped in captivity
December 1: Victim's body recovered from a forest area in Sector 52
January 15, 2014: UT police bring a juvenile and Rajkumar on production warrants from SAS Nagar for interrogation in an ATM fraud case
January 19: Accused confesses to having raped and murdered the girl
January 23: Sunita and Bhagat Singh arrested
April 21: Police file charge sheet
April 25: Charges framed against all four
August 25, 2015: Court convicts accused
August 28: Court awards life term to all three convicts