Thane Additional Sessions Judge A S Waghwase awarded the sentence to accused Shivaji Motiram Rathod, holding him guilty under section 376 of the IPC and also section 506 of IPC. He was also imposed with a fine of Rs 5000 failing which he will have to undergo another three months of imprisonment.
Additional Public Prosecutor Buleshwar Hinge told the court that the crime took place on February 14, 2007 when the accused, employed as a driver for the car owned by the victim's maternal uncle, offered to drop her school that morning.
The fifth-grade victim studied in a school at Vashi in Navi Mumbai. When she was on her way to school, the driver took her to nearby Koparkhairne to his friend's house and then proceeded to tourist spot Alibaug on a motor cycle where he raped her in a lodge, the court was told.
The accused threatened that he would kill her father if the girl revealed anything.
It was only on March 09, 2007 when the girl broke her silence, that the matter came to light following which the mother approached the Vashi police.
Pronouncing the verdict, the judge said, "its already established that the girl was at the most 12 years of age at the time of incident. That in spite of her resistance, she was unsuccessful in preserving her chastity only because of the threat by accused to kill her father."
The defence argued that the father of the victim was residing at his native West Bengal and the girl's version that there was threat to his life from the accused is "not believable".
Also it said that further examination of the girl revealed that her father came to Mumbai very rarely. Infact, she categorically stated that he used to visit them only once in a month.
However, taking a serious view of the crime, the judge observed "It is very much possible that a girl of tender age out of fear of threat to her father's life might have become a soft target and yielded to the perverse acts of the accused."
Section 376 of IPC imposes an obligation on the court convicting the accused of such an offence to impose minimum sentence of RI which shall not not be less than 7 years. Only in exceptional cases for adequate and special reason to be recorded in the judgement, the trial courts are permitted to impose sentence less than 7 years.
"Here having heard submission of both the sides and accused himself, I do not not find that any case is made out to carve out this case as an exception. In my considered view, taking totality of the circumstances and evidence on record, I proceed to pass following order," the judge said, while sentencing the driver to seven years RI.