Navi Mumbai The Thane sessions court on Friday awarded ten years of rigorous imprisonment to a 46-year-old auto driver, who allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl in 2016.The court also imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 on him, failing which he would have to undergo rigorous imprisonment for another three months.According to police, the accused, Sitaram Dina Mandal, a native of Jharkhand who lived in a rented house at Sanpada, regularly bought cooked food from the minor girl’s parents (they were in the business of making packed tiffins). “One day in May , the accused went to the family to collect his lunch. The girl’s parents had gone to a nearby market and she was alone at home. Taking advantage of the situation, the accused closed the door and raped her,” said a police officer from Sanpada police station. “After committing the crime, the accused asked the girl not to reveal it to anyone, threatening her with dire consequences.”It was only in early 2017 that the girl’s parents realised that she was pregnant. They then registered an FIR under section 376 (punishment for rape), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 5 and 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.The police launched a manhunt against the accused and arrested him in March last year. He was kept in jail since then. “We had collected evidence against Mandal to make it a watertight case,” the police officer said.