A special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act court in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on Monday sentenced a man to three life terms for raping two school girls in a bus, while the vehicle’s woman caretaker was given a 20-year sentence.
Judge Shailja Gupta also fined both Rs 32,000 each, which will given to the two victims, the state prosecution department’s public relations official Manoj Tripathi said.
“Driver Hanumat Jatav (32) has been given triple-life sentence, while bus caretaker Urmila Sahu (35) has been sentenced to 20 years in jail. They were pronounced guilty on Saturday,” he said.
The sentences were awarded under sections 376 (AB) (whoever, commits rape on a woman under twelve years of age) and 376(2) (commits rape repeatedly on the same woman), which carry prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years and can extend to imprisonment for the remainder of natural life.
“Both the accused forgot their duty of protecting girls aged just three-and-half years and breached their confidence in them by subjecting them to their loathing lust. When the girls are not secure in the holy educational institution then it is very difficult to imagine their independent development in the society,” the judge said in her order.
“The act committed by them is of serious loathing nature and a blot on the mutual relations of belief in the society. It is a draconian criminal act and, therefore, no leniency can be adopted against the accused persons in the case,” she further said.
The incident, which took place on September 8 this year, came to light after the parents of one of the victims noticed her dress had been changed by someone.
On being asked about this, the girl told her father about her ordeal at the hands of bus driver Jatav, who had also given them toffees, the prosecution said.
“When she felt pain in her private parts, the woman caretaker held her to calm her down. The driver used to threaten her by holding her by the hair and telling her not reveal the incident to anyone,” the prosecution said.
During a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), the parents of another victim informed about the repeated wrongdoings of Jatav, the official said, adding that state of the second victim and her parents were recorded under Witness Protection Act.
The prosecution team led by special public prosecutor Manisha Patel completed the investigations in 14 working days by recording statements of 32 witnesses in the case, the official said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan welcomed the judgment and said there is no space in civilised society for someone indulging in such a heinous crime, adding his government was committed to ensure such persons get stringent punishment.
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