A youth, convicted for raping a mentally challenged 80-year-old woman who is in a persistent vegetative state, has been jailed for rest of his life by a Delhi court.
Awarding the jail term to 24-year-old Shankar Singh, Additional sessions judge Nivedita Anil Sharma also made it clear that "life means the remainder of the convict's natural life".
"It has already been observed in the judgement that this case is a glaring example of the growing menace of sexual abuse. Rape is an abominable and ghastly and it worsens and becomes inhuman and barbaric when the victim who is in a persistent vegetative state besides being a senior citizen of advanced age of about 80 years is subjected to unwanted physical contact by a perverted male young adult," the court said and also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Singh.
The judge refused to show any leniency to the convict and said he has raped an aged woman who "does not speak, move or respond. She is suffering from severe Dementia. She was a helpless, defenceless, vulnerable and an easy prey."
The court directed the state to pay compensation to the victim, as per the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme, which entitles them for Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh as minimum and maximum compensation respectively.
The shocking incident took place on intervening night of April 15-16, when the victim was sleeping outside her house near Mansarovar Garden in west Delhi and neighbour Singh raped her.
Two eye witnesses told the court that they were lying on their cots few steps away from the woman and they noticed that Singh first sat on her cot and inquired whether she had her dinner.
He then raped her, the witnesses said and on noticing his act, they shouted at Singh after which he ran away.
They informed the woman's family members who were sleeping inside the house and after beating Singh, decided to inform police in the morning. He was then arrested.
During the case proceedings, when the frail and weak woman was brought to the court, the judge herself got down from the dais and went to examine her.
The court, however, dropped her from the list of witnesses as the victim was not able to answer any of the questions asked by the judge and she was even not able to tell her name.
"She (woman) did not appear to understand anything what is being said to her or inquired from her. She is not responding to any command like lifting her hand. I had held her hand, trying to comfort her and asked her name several times but she did not respond and was not even looking towards me. She did not utter a single word and was silent. She was looking blankly towards the wall and was not responding to anything," the judge noted in the judgement.
The court said Singh cannot be released as he can commit similar offence with other women, if kept out.
It said offences against women are on a rise and there is an urgent need to curb this tendency by awarding deterrent punishment to perpetrators of this grave offence.
"To show mercy in the case of such a heinous crime would be a travesty of justice and the plea for leniency is wholly misplaced. The welfare and interest of other women in the society also needs to be protected for the reason that if the convict is released, they may be subjected by him in a similar offence with them," the court said, adding that the crime was done in a planned manner by Singh.
Calling him a "perverted man", the judge said Singh should be awarded a substantive, stern and firm sentence because he has "defiled" her.
"As per social morality which attaches highest importance to the chastity of a woman, the outrage and breach of her privacy and modesty is a heinous offence," the court said.
The court also said that rape is "abominable, ghastly, inhuman and barbaric". "The victim lacks self-confidence and is always under a sense of guilt and denial. It's not about the body. It's more about the mind. Sexual abuse is a rape of the mind and thought processes," it observed.
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