Five sentenced to life imprisonment for gang rape of minor in Chennai
A special court here on Monday awarded life imprisonment to five of the 15 men, including security guards, electricians and plumbers, convicted for raping an 11-year-old hearing-impaired girl for six months inside a gated community in Chennai in 2018.
Special judge RN Manjula sentenced another accused to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and nine others to five years of rigorous imprisonment.
Pronouncing the quantum of sentence, the judge said the four main accused — lift operator Ravikumar, 56, plumber Suresh, 32, and security guards Abishek, 28, and Palani, 40, — deserved no leniency.
Housekeeper Rajasekar, 48, was awarded life term, while Erold Bross, a security guard, has been sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
The nine other convicts — Umapathy, 42, Sugumaran, 60, Murugesan, 54, Paramasivam, 60, Jaiganesh, 23, Deenadayalan, 50, Raja, 32, Surya, 23, Jayaraman, 26, — were each awarded five years of rigorous imprisonment.
The convicts were charged with sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. They were also booked under Sections 5, 6, 9 and 10 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 12 (sexual assault) under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.
The special judge acquitted one of the accused, Gunasekar, 55, a gardener, for want of evidence. Another accused, Babu, a lift operator, died of illness during the pendency of the case.
Since the convicts have served one and a half year in prison, the judge said they could be exempted from being slapped with a penalty.
Convicting the 15 men on Saturday, the judge had deferred the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence to February 3.
The sexual abuse of the 11-year-old came to light in July 2018 and provoked outrage in the city.
The girl’s parents filed a police complaint after she narrated her ordeal to her elder sister. In their police complaint, they said the girl was gang-raped, filmed and threatened with the elimination of her family if she complained.
The parents, in their complaint, said that the accused administered sedatives and abused the girl multiple times between January and July 2018.
In all, 17 accused were arrested and detained under the Goondas Act. The girl had identified the accused at a parade in the Puzhal Central Prison.
“The trial was agonising for the minor as she was cross examined by the counsel of each of the accused during which they attempted a character assassination of the girl,” public prosecutor N Ramesh said.
“The accused engaged in delaying tactics by moving the High Court seeking a CBI probe and then for a change of trial judge. They had filed nearly 50 petitions in the High Court,” he said.
The trial commenced in January 2019 and the prosecution submitted 120 witnesses and the cross examination of the investigating officer of the case lasted for a month. The clinching evidence was that of the doctors who had examined her and deposed as prosecution witnesses, Ramesh said.
“We expected capital punishment as we prayed for maximum punishment. However, we are satisfied at having secured justice for the girl,” he said.