Gandhi Nagar gangrape case: 20 years imprisonment, ₹31,500 fines to two convicts, ₹11 lakh compensation to rape survivor
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday sentenced two men to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment for abducting and raping a five-year-old girl in east Delhi in 2013, an incident that came close on the heels of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in December 2012. The judge on Thursday said the 2013 crime was committed in an “extremely demoniac and barbaric manner so as to arouse intentions and extreme indignation of society”.
The judge also said the accused left the victim to die in the room and also held them guilty of attempt to murder.
The court also directed the Delhi Legal State Authority (DLSA) (east) to pay a compensation of ₹11 lakh to the rape survivor for her rehabilitation.
Additional sessions judge Naresh Kumar Malhotra also imposed a fine of ₹31, 500 each on the convicts — Manoj Shah and Pradeep Kumar, who were found guilty by the court on January 18 of raping the minor girl, who later came to be known as Gudiya, at their rented house in Gandhi Nagar in April 2013.
According to investigators, Shah lived in a rented accommodation in the same building as the girl’s family and, along with his friend Kumar, kidnapped her. After raping her, the two locked their house and fled. The girl was found nearly 40 hours later, on April 17, by a neighbour who alerted her parents, who had already filed a missing persons report. When rescued, the girl was found with three candles and a hair oil bottle inside her body.
However, the girl’s uncle expressed his disappointment about the sentence and said he would appeal against it before a higher court. Legal experts said that had the amendment in the rape laws been brought prior to the date of this crime [April 15, 2013], the convicts would have handed a death penalty.
“Even if the bill was passed earlier, the amendment in the rape laws came only in August 2019. So it cannot be used for cases which have happened prior to the amendment. The maximum imprisonment for rape read with Pocso [Protection of Children from Sexual Offences] is life imprisonment for the remainder of one’s life,” said advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, who works with Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO.
The two convicts were in court on Thursday, along with their respective defence counsels, and did not seek mercy despite the judge giving them an opportunity to do so.
Shah even dared media persons present to take photos or videos of him while being taken out of the courtroom. On January 18, Shah had allegedly slapped a female journalist for making a video of his while he was being escorted out of the courtroom following the conviction.
Shah was brought to the courtroom around 2.15pm, in handcuffs. His legs were also chained following the orders of the judge who had taken a cognisance of Shah’s behaviour against the journalist on January 18.
On Thursday, while passing the order, the judge noted that the aggravating factors have overweighed the mitigating circumstances of the convicts being from poor backgrounds and intoxicated while committing the crime.
The judge said there was a “demonstration of exceptional depravity and extreme brutality”.
Noting that “extreme misery was inflicted upon the victim”, the court said that the “pain which the victim had undergone is beyond imagination”.
“Both the convicts had committed ghastly and horrendous act with the victim,” the court said while adding “the manner in which the offence has been committed shows the perversion on the part of both the convicts.”
“…..the cumulative effect of the above mentioned facts taken together is conclusive in establishing the guilt of both the accused persons. The chain of circumstances is complete and does not leave any reasonable ground for conclusion consistent with the innocence of both the accused persons. The chain of circumstances is able to show that both the accused persons committed rape and sexually assaulted the victim….. and they had also cause disappearance of evidence,” the judge said in his 92 page judgment.
Advocate RS Juneja, counsel for Shah, said, “We will go through the judgment and decide on the future course of action.”
The court said that due to the penetrative sexual assault the victim’s internal organs were damaged as well. It also said blood stains were present the shirts the accused persons were wearing.
Shah and Kumar were found guilty of abduction (Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code), wrongful confinement (342) destruction of evidence (201), 307 (attempt to murder), gang rape with common intention (376D), and under relevant sections of the Pocso Act.