A special court in Mumbai on Monday convicted and sentenced a 37-year-old man to 25 years in jail for offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) after he was found guilty of raping his adolescent daughter multiple times [The State of Maharashtra vs Sachin Suresh Wadekar].
Special Judge Bharti Kale was of the opinion that the accused did not deserve leniency for his heinous crime.
“A father lays a foundation of security, trust and love. A father makes his daughter’s life safe and protect her from getting hurt. But victim’s father himself has caused immeasurable pain to her….The accused does not deserve much leniency as offence committed by him is heinous which affects the fabric of life,” the Court said.
The prosecution claimed that the 13-year-old girl lived with her grandparents, uncle, father, and two younger siblings. Her mother was said to have abandoned them seven years before the incident.
The incident came to light in May 2021, when the girl’s grandma questioned her about her missed menstrual cycle. The girl then stated that her father had been subjecting her to forceful sexual abuse since the previous year.
She claimed that the accused used to rape her when he returned home under the influence of liquor. He allegedly sexually assaulted her at least five times.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the accusation.
His counsel argued that the house where they were living was too tiny for someone to perform such a crime without being detected by others. The lawyer said that the bogus complaint was filed against him because he used to prevent the girl from conversing with her male friends.
It was contended that the failure by the survivor to raise an alarm suggested that the act did not take place.
The judge stated that the child’s refusal to raise an alarm did not cast doubt on her evidence since she was sexually assaulted by someone in authority on whom she was reliant. The Court stated that just because the living space was tiny did not mean that such activities were not feasible.
On the survivor’s silence, the Court said that in most cases, it is due to fear.
“The victim’s failure to raise shouts is mainly for the reason that there is fear in the mind of children that if a close relative commits such nature of acts then what will happen to their life if they resist as the uncertainty of future loom large in their mind. Such kind of fear is real when the children are not protected in their own house and they are,” the Court said.
In the present case, the victim’s mother had left her and her other siblings and so her situation was more vulnerable, the Court added.
“This fear of children is not addressed as they do not know that how they will be protected and cared for as they are not aware that they will get a shelter and an opportunity to lead a normal life,” the Court observed.
Citing provisions of the POCSO Act, it said there were rules for spreading awareness and also to ensure that the child is placed in a shelter home if needed.
Th man was sentenced to 25 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of ₹20,000 to be paid as compensation to the survivor.
Special Public Prosecutor SS Joshi appeared for the State. Advocate Vasant Prabhu represented the accused.
Read Judgment here: