The Kathua and Unnao rape cases shocked the entire nation with many blaming the government for the muted response. Thousands of people have stood up for the justice for victims and demanded strict punishment for rapists. Following nationwide outrage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came forward and said no criminal will be spared and daughters will get justice.
The following story is also about a rape but with a twist. Justice Anant Badar of Bombay High Court reduced the prison term of a youth from ten to seven years. The youth was convicted of raping a minor girl. The reason behind reduction in the sentence was that the 14-year-old rape survivor had said in a statement that she was in love with Rafiq Shaikh, the accused.
The Times of India quotes justice Anant Badar saying:
“The case of the girl projected from the FIR shows that she was in love with the accused. The record shows that the accused was also a young person of 22 years. He was not proved to have threatened the girl in any manner or applied force on her for indulging in sexual relations with her. Such relations were undoubtedly consensual in nature but punishable because the girl at the relevant time was more than 14 years of age but less than 16 years.”
The court also considered the specific situation while reducing the prison term. He said:
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“The accused was 22 years of age when the incidents took place and there is nothing on record to show that he is a habitual offender or criminal… I am of the considered opinion that imposition of sentence of seven years of rigorous imprisonment with some fine will meet the interest of justice.”
In 2013, the government had raised the age of consent for physical relationship from 16 to 18. As per the complaint, Shaikh had forced intercourse with the girl in 2013 when she was merely 14-year-old. Shaikh befriended her in 2012, had promised to marry her and continued physical relationship with her. A sessions court in 2013 had held Shaikh guilty of rape, criminal intimidation and cheating, and sentenced him 10 years imprisonment.
The lawyer of the accused questioned the delay in lodgment of FIR. However, the High Court stated that mere delay in lodging FIR was not fatal to the case and maintained that the minor girl was raped. Along with 7 years imprisonment, the judge also imposed a fine of Rs 1000 on the accused.
Do you think it was fair on the part of the judge to reduce the prison term of a man accused on raping a minor girl on the grounds that the girl loved him? Do share your views with us in the comments section!