Court says case rarest of rare, but stops short of awarding death sentence considering advanced age of convict
ADDITIONAL Sessions Judge S T Darane sentenced 81-year-old Mohiniraj Kulkarni to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 12,000 on him for the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl. Judge Darane also awarded Kulkarni three years in prison for destroying evidence.The victim's mother, Rekha, was employed as a domestic help to take care of Kulkarni's ailing wife, Mrunalini.
The lifer: Convict Mohiniraj Kulkarni. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
Rekha had turned approver in the case.Additional Public Prosecutor Vikas Shah, who examined 10 witnesses, argued for the death sentence while defence lawyer Viraj Kakde requested the court for minimum sentence considering Kulkarni's age.
While announcing the sentence, Judge Darane said it was the rarest of the rare case but life imprisonment was awarded considering Kulkarni's age. Kulkarni raped and murdered the 10-year-old victim on October 14, 2009. The incident took place in the afternoon when Rekha had stepped out to get tiffin for the Kulkarni couple. When she returned, she was unable to find her daughter. When she climbed up to the terrace, she found her daughter lying unconscious. Rekha took her daughter to Poona Hospital, where she was declared dead upon arrival.
Investigations revealed that Kulkarni had offered Rekha Rs 50,000 and had also threatened her. Kulkarni had also asked Rekha to make the incident look like her daughter had tried to strangulate herself. Considering Kulkarni's age, it took 10 days for the Vishrambaug police to arrest him. He and Rekha had an illicit relationship. Investigations revealed that Kulkarni, who was habitual to specific drugs to boost his sexual power, used to pedal daily till the Pune railway station area to buy Viagra at a cheap rate.
The police also recovered empty tablet pouches at his residence during a search. According to the chargesheet, previous to this incident Kulkarni had molested the victim, which was objected to by Rekha. But to quell her opposition, he had raised Rekha's salary.
Injustice, says convicted man
Mojiniraj Kulkarni pleaded not guilty in court. He told the court that being the only man present in the house when the incident took place, the police had arrested him and implicated him wrongly in the case. When the judge reminding the accused that all this had already been said before, Kulkarni said, "This is injustice."