Citing lack of sufficient evidence, the Bombay high court (HC), last week, set aside the conviction granted to former head constable Chandrakant Pawar, 53, for raping a minor, by reducing the charge to "attempt to rape".
On October 17, 2005, Pawar -- attached to the Sahar Airport police station - allegedly sexually assaulted a beggar from a junction near Hotel Leela at a secluded place. An employee with the Sahar International Terminal saw the policeman and the 15-year-old coming out of the bushes.
On speaking to the girl, he learnt of the incident. Based on the victim's statement, Pawar was taken to the police station and arrested on October 18, 2005. He was lodged in Kalamba Central Prison near Kolhapur.
In July 2006, the sessions court convicted Pawar on the charge of raping the girl and other minor charges, sentencing him to 15 years' rigorous imprisonment. The head constable moved the HC. Taking the oral, medical and forensic evidence into account, justice JH Bhatia, last week, ruled out the possibility of actual penetration.
Noting that there was overwhelming evidence suggesting that the policeman had kidnapped the girl with an intention to sexually assault her, justice Bhatia convicted Pawar on charge of attempt to rape.
The judge sentenced him to a prison term he has already served since his arrest paving the way for his immediate release.