Supreme Court rules out old age as ground to plea for token sentence in sexual offence case

New Delhi: Old age cannot be a factor for awarding token jail sentence in a sexual offence case, a Delhi court has said.

The court, which was dealing with a case in which a six-year-old girl was disrobed and molested by her 61-year-old neighbour, said a token sentence, which is awarded just for the sake of punishment, will not fit in the offence of sexual assault.

The Supreme Court of India. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Old age and clean antecedents can at the best be relevant for reducing the punishment but not a ground to allow a convict walk free after serving a token punishment, like sentenced till the rising of the court or the end of the day's working hours, the judge said.

"No doubt, the old age and clean antecedents of the appellant are relevant factors to determine the quantum of sentence, but considering the fact that the appellant had outraged the modesty of a minor child, I am of the considered opinion that the plea is not sufficient to impose the token sentence, but certainly relevant to reduce the sentence," Additional Sessions Judge Pawan Kumar Jain said.

The judge upheld the conviction of Anil Prakash, a north west Delhi resident, by relying on the testimony of the victim's mother who had found her minor daughter lying down naked while the man was inappropriately touching her.

"Making a female child naked certainly amounts to outraging the modesty of the child. Thus I am of the considered opinion that the testimony of the mother is sufficient to bring home the guilt of appellant (Prakash) for the offence punishable under IPC," ASJ Jain said.

The court, however, reduced his sentence from two years to six months of rigorous imprisonment considering the fact that the convict had been facing trial for seven years. It also directed him to pay Rs 30,000 to the victim.

According to the prosecution, the minor girl went missing from her home on 12 August, 2010. While looking for the child, her mother went to Prakash's house where she found her daughter lying down naked and the man allegedly molesting her.

The man fled the spot and the woman lodged a complaint with the police, following which he was apprehended. The man claimed in his appeal that he was falsely implicated in the case as the father of the girl allegedly owed him Rs 10,000.

The magisterial court, after considering the evidence and the deposition of the girl, had convicted the man to two years of jail and a fine of Rs 40,000.

Updated Date: May 14, 2017 11:21 AM

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