A POCSO court in Surat on Tuesday awarded death sentence to a 35-year-old man for raping and murdering a two-and-a-half-year-old girl. The trial in the case was completed in five days during which 42 witnesses were heard and examined by the court.
According to the case, the girl, daughter of a textile worker, went missing while playing outside her home November 4 . After unsuccessfully searching for the girl her family members lodged a missing person complaint with police.
On November 7, police found the body of the minor girl in a decomposed state. The parents identified the body and it was sent for postmortem, report of which confirmed that the girl was raped and later strangulated to death.
Using technical surveillance, police identified the accused, the 35-year-old man, who was a neighbour of the victim’s family, and arrested him on November 8 under IPC sections 376(A), 376 (A,B), and 302, and the relevant sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.
A week after the arrest, police submitted a 246-page chargesheet comprising 64 witness statements as well as scientific, medical and technical evidences to the court.
Surat District Government Pleader Nayan Sukhadwala had moved an application before Special POCSO Court Judge P S Kala to carry out speedy trial in the case, which was accepted by the judge.
On Tuesday, the judge awarded death sentence to the accused. According to the order, the accused was convicted of all the charges levelled against him. The court also awarded him life imprisonment under IPC section 376(3) and 10 years imprisonment under IPC section 366.
The court has also ordered a compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the victim’s family. The accused has been sent to Surat Central Jail at Lajpore under police protection.
After the judgment was pronounced, the victim’s mother, who was present in the courtroom, said, “I am happy with the court’s order and I will only get justice when the convict is hanged to death.”
Lauding the police and judiciary, Minister of State (MoS) Home Harsh Sanghavi said that central and state governments have zero tolerance in cases of assault and sexual violence against children.
“I am grateful to the judicial system of Gujarat, its police, medical and forensics team for the verdict… The central and state governments have zero tolerance for cases of assault and sexual violence against children and this verdict will set an example. In the past one month in Gujarat, verdicts have been given in three cases under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,” said Sanghavi at a press conference in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
Talking to the Indian Express, Sukhadwala said, “We are satisfied with the judgment. The reason behind a speedy trial in this case was to set an example.”
Surat Police Commissioner Ajay Kumar Tomar said, “The incident, which took place on Diwali night, is inhumane and heinous. Over 1,000 policemen in Surat were involved in the investigation and they worked for days and nights.”
Tomar also said that the district administration has installed over 100 CCTV cameras in 20 different residential societies to prevent such crimes.
Defence lawyer Abdul Habib Shaikh said, “We will go through the judgment copy and decide the future step accordingly.”