A Delhi Court on 30 January has sentenced two men – Manoj Shah and Pradeep Kumar to 20 years in prison, for raping a five-year-old in East Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar. Earlier on 18 January, the court stated that the child has experienced not only exceptional depravity but also extreme brutality and convicted the two accused of gangrape and torturing the minor girl with foreign objects, in April 2013.
The bench headed by Additional Sessions Judge Naresh Kumar Malhotra further directed to pay Rs 11 Lakh as compensation to the victim.
In an over 100-page judgment, the court asserted that “In our society, minor girls are worshipped as a goddess on certain occasions, but in the present case, the victim child, who was aged about five years at the time of the incident had experienced exceptional depravity and extreme brutality.” The bench further stated that “The crime against the victim in the present case was committed in a most grotesque and revolting manner and the collective conscience of the community was shaken.”
In April 2013, the two men gang-raped a minor girl and brutally tortured her by inserting foreign objects like a piece of candle and hair oil bottle into private parts and later abandoned her in a room thinking she was dead. The child was rescued 40 hours later. The girl had undergone multiple surgeries at the AIIMS hospital in Delhi.
Subsequently, in April 2013, Manoj and Pradeep were arrested from Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga in Bihar, respectively. In May 2013, the Delhi police filed a charge sheet against the accused and later in July 2013, a Delhi court charged them for raping a minor, under Sections 377 (unnatural offense), 363 (kidnapping), 307 (attempt to murder), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 342 (wrongful confinement with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 6 (aggravated sexual assault) under the POCSO Act. As per sources, one of the accused Manoj, hit some reporters while he was being taken out of the courtroom.
While in the 2012 Nirbhaya case, a trial court had convicted and sentenced the four convicts to death within 10 months, it took over six years, seven judges and 57 prosecution witnesses to complete the trial in this case. This was because of the delayed proceedings after the convict Pradeep approached the trial court in 2014, claiming he was a juvenile at the time of his arrest. The trial court took three years to declare he was juvenile and transferred the case to Juvenile Justice Board, in April 2017. He was then granted bail in June 2017. However, in 2018, the victim’s mother challenged the trial court’s order in the Delhi High Court, which later declared that Pradeep was not a juvenile and sent him to trial before the sessions court.
“Though the trial should have been completed in two years, we are happy we got justice after six years,” the father of the child said after the verdict was announced on 30 January.
However, Advocate H.S. Phoolka, appearing for the survivor, said that he would appeal against the order in the High Court and seek life imprisonment for the two convicts.