High Court reverses judgment, orders life term to rape accused

Coming down heavily on the trial court for acquitting a rape and murder accused in 2009, the Delhi High Court reversing the judgment, sentenced life term to the man after three years.

A division bench consisting of Justice S P Garg and Justice S Ravindra Bhat said: "We are satisfied that the trial court committed manifest errors in regard to appreciating the evidence of the deceased's younger brother."

The accused Prakash had raped a 14-year-old girl in a slum in south Delhi's Green Park area, strangled her and set the body on fire on January 18, 2000. The victim's eight-year-old brother was a witness to the crime.

"The act of the accused by setting fire was clearly intended to result in disappearance of evidence. In view of these findings, the judgment and order of acquittal is hereby reversed," the court said. 

The trial court had acquitted him earlier on the ground that the evidence recorded by the victim's brother was not corroborated by other witnesses and could not be relied upon. The High Court said the motive of the accused could not be ascertained but that did not signify its absence.

No leniency

Rash and negligent drivers should be awarded deterrent punishment as any leniency shown to them could escalate the number of road accidents in the city, the Delhi High Court has ruled.

“One of the most effective ways of keeping such drivers under mental vigil is to maintain a deterrent element in the sentencing sphere. Any latitude shown to them in that sphere would tempt them to make driving frivolous and a frolic, thus endangering the life of public at large, which cannot be allowed,” said Justice M L Mehta. 

The High Court made the observations while upholding a year-long jail term awarded to bus driver Dharmender for mowing down a cyclist in November, 1998 at Raja Garden chowk in west Delhi.

“When automobiles have become death traps, any leniency shown to drivers who are found guilty of rash driving would be at the risk of further escalation of road accidents,” the bench said, dismissing the driver’s plea for his release on probation.

Dharmender was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment by the trial court on April 2, 2005 for causing death due to rash and negligent driving. The conductor of the bus had said in his testimony that Dharmender had been driving at a very fast speed in a rash and negligent manner and had jumped a red light before hitting the cyclist.

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