The Delhi High Court, along with sustaining the decision of trial court in convicting two in a rape case, has also deemed it appropriate to reduce the sentence of one of the accused to the period he already served, who suffered a disability due to a paralytic attack.
The appeal was filed by Rekha and Subhash Pandit against the order of the trial court that had convicted Rekha under sec. 109 read with sec. 376 of the Indian Penal Code and sec. 5 of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, and Subhash under sec. 376A, 376 and sec. 109 read with sec. 376 of the IPC and sec. 5 of the ITP Act.
The case against them was registered on a complaint filed by a 12-year-old girl studying in the fourth grade in a government school, who was allegedly taken by the accused and engaged in prostitution. The prosecutrix had been consistent in her allegation that she had been raped and compelled to engage in sex with various other people. She had alleged that her friend Pooja's mother and aunt used to dress her and confine her inside the house.
ISSUE BEFORE THE TRIAL COURT
The prosecutrix in her statement under sec. 164 of Cr.PC had stated in unambiguous terms that Pooja's mother and aunt used to force her to engage in sex. She also testified before the court that Rekha used to compel her to engage in sex with customers.
The accused, however, argued that there is no evidence to establish that either of the accused had engaged into any business with the persons who engaged in sex with the prosecutrix. They submitted on record that there was no evidence to indicate that any consideration wastaken by them in exchange of prosecutrix allegedly engaging in sex with the persons and hence, offence punishable under sec. 5 of the ITP act was not established. The Court read that:
"There can be little doubt as to the nature of her allegations. A meaningful reading of her statements and testimony would clearly indicate that the prosecutrix had alleged a commercial angle to her being compelled to engage with, customers."
The Court held that despite the lack of direct evidence that any consideration was paid by the persons with whom the prosecutrix was forced to engage in sex with, the prosecutrix had explicitly referred to the said persons as 'customers' in her testimony.Therefore, it was held thatthe accused be charged for committing/abetting an offence punishable under sec. 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
DECISION MADE BY THE HIGH COURT
The High Court said that it finds no fault in the decision of the Trial Court to convict the appellants for committing/abetting an offence punishable under sec. 5 of the ITP Act. Upholding the verdict of the trial court, the single-judge bench of Justice VibhuBakhru also stated that it deems the decision of the trial court appropriate to convict the accused Rekha punishable under sec. 109 read with sec. 376 of the IPC. The Court, however, observed Rekha had already served the sentence for which she was convicted.
In view of the above, the Court found no fault in the judgement passed by the trial court to convict the appellants for committing/abetting an offence punishable under sec. 5 of the ITP Act, thus dismissing the appellant's plea.
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