Man gets death penalty for 7-year-old’s rape-murder in Tamil Nadu
In its first judgment since it was constituted 20 days ago, a special court for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) on Friday awarded capital punishment to a 34-year-old man convicted for rape and murder of a seven-year-old Dalit girl on March 24 this year at Pannimadai village on the outskirts of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
Pronouncing the sentence, judge J Radhika said the prosecution had proved the charges against Santhosh Kumar and found him guilty on three counts: rape, murder and destruction of evidence, under the POCSO Act and under the IPC.
Sentencing him to death for the murder of the girl, the judge also awarded him life term till his natural death, Rs 1,000 penalty for rape and seven-year rigorous imprisonment and Rs 1,000 fine for destruction of evidence.
All the sentences should run concurrently, the judge ruled and ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family.
Meanwhile, on the evidence of another man’s involvement in the crime, the judge directed the police to form a special team headed by a woman police officer to search for the accomplice.
On March 24 this year, the girl went missing from her house. On a complaint from the girl’s mother, a daily wager, police carried out a search and found her mutilated body, with her limbs tied, in an alley near her house on March 25. The autopsy confirmed that she was raped and smothered to death.
A week later, Kumar, who often visited his grandmother’s house at Pannimadai, was arrested in the case. According to the prosecution, he had confessed to have raped the girl before murdering her.
However, a day ahead of the verdict, the forensic report revealed the involvement of another person in the crime. As per the report, seminal stains of another person were found besides those of Kumar. The police stuck to the theory that the victim could have been abused over a period of time. However, the judge rejected the argument.