The sessions court, on Thursday, awarded capital punishment to Ramchandra Karanjule, the founder of Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha, for physical and sexual exploitation of 19 mentally-challenged minor girls housed at his Panvel-based orphanage.
Taking a strict view of the case, the court observed, “Crime against women is increasing day-by-day. The law has to change according to the needs of society. It is the need of the hour to create a deterrent by imposing the highest punishment, otherwise, the judicial conscience will be taken for granted.”
While awarding death sentence to Karanjule, the court said, “For years, Karanjule and others have been exploiting the girls physically and sexually. He has murdered one of the inmates, which has been proven. Hence, life imprisonment would be an inadequate punishment for him.”
The court also stressed on the need for development of a law for illegal omission of duties. “In India, most children die of malnutrition and tuberculosis. Nobody takes cognisance of it. The concept of illegal omission is not yet developed. It is not that the statute is not there. It is necessary to change the mindset of people,” the court ruled.
“We have to imagine the condition of the mute [deaf and dumb] mentally-challenged orphans in the custody of Karanjule, who were not in good health, were beaten up and were not taken to a hospital till they died,” the court added.
The court noted that the girls were not allowed to move around and were kept in a 250 sqft room which had no doors but rolling shutter. The inmates were deprived of the very basic human rights such as health and education.
“All the girls were at his disposal for 24 hours and he raped them everyday. A hysterectomy operation was also performed on one of the girls. Girls were dying one after the other, and he had no remorse.”
Karanjule used to take the girls to his under-construction site at a remote place, where girls were forced to do labour work. After work, his friends and he used to consume liquor, also force the girls to drink it and rape them.
The girls were branded with hot spoons, cigarette butts, candles, safety pins and knife on their body and private parts by Karanjule and caretakers Sonali Badade and Parvati Malve.
Karanjule’s aides, Khandu Kasbe alias Deepak Mayekar, and Prakash Khadke, have been sentenced to life imprisonment. His nephew Nanabhau has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Badade and Malve have been sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.