A man in northern Indian will receive 51 slaps in public after village elders found him guilty of raping a neighbor who is deaf and dumb, a village chief said on Friday.
The elders stepped in to review the case because local police failed to arrest the accused after a complaint was filed by the victim's husband, village head Badr-ul Hasan said.
"Police told us that since the woman is deaf and dumb, she is not able to narrate the incident," Hasan said.
A village court, comprising five elders, heard from both sides on Wednesday. It found the man guilty, fined him 5,000 rupees (US$110, euro90), and ordered he be publicly slapped with an open hand 51 times, he said.
"We can't do more than that. The village court doesn't have powers to arrest any one," said Hasan. "By public slapping, the court wants to put (him) to shame."
The village court generally settles land and other such disputes among the residents, not criminal offenses.
The woman, a mother of three, alleged she was raped in a field last Sunday when returning home from work in Rampur, 330 kilometers (205 miles) northwest of Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Police inspector C.N. Singh said officers were still investigating her complaint.
"A case will be registered only if police find proof that the woman was raped. We are inquiring from children who were playing in the field then," Singh said.
If convicted by a state criminal court, the man could be sentenced to death.