Rape-cum-murder convict freed by SC after 14-yrs in jail

Rape-cum-murder convict freed by SC after 14-yrs in jail

Rape-cum-murder convict freed by SC after 14-yrs in jail

A specially abled man, convicted for raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl in 1998, today got relief from the Supreme Court which observed that he was a juvenile at the time of committing the offence but the only cold comfort was that he was lodged in jail for 14 years.

A bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi took into consideration the report of medical board constituted to determine the age of Rajasthan resident Darga Ram and held that he was juvenile as on the date of commission of offence.

"...No matter the offence committed by him is heinous and but for the protection available to him under the Act (Juvenile Justice Act), the appellant may have deserved the severest punishment permissible under law. The fact that the appellant has been in jail for nearly 14 years is the only cold comfort for us to let out of jail one who has been found guilty of rape and murder of an innocent young child," it said.

The bench affirmed the conviction of Ram under section 376 (rape) and 302 (murder) of IPC but set aside the sentence awarded to him with a direction that he shall be set free from prison.

It, however, showed disappointment over the medical board not being able to determine the exact age of the convict despite of the advances made in medical field.

"Having said that we cannot help observing that we have not felt very comfortable with the medical board estimating the age of the appellant in a range of 30 to 36 years as on the date of the medical examination," the bench said.

It added, "What reassures us about the estimate of age is the fact that the same is determined by a medical board comprising professors of anatomy, radio diagnosis and forensic medicine whose opinion must get the respect it deserves."

The bench considered the age of Ram as 17 years and 2 months on the date of occurrence of offence and, therefore, held him as a juvenile.

Ram had been convicted and awarded life sentence by the trial court for the rape and murder of a minor girl on the night of April 9, 1998.

His conviction was upheld in the High Court against which he had appealed in the Supreme Court. In his appeal, for the first time he took the plea that he was juvenile at the time of commission of the offence.

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