ALWAR: A 19-year-old man has been given the death sentence for raping a seven-month-old child. The judgement stands out for two reasons. One, the verdict has been delivered in just 70 days since the child was raped. Second, it is the first instance of the death penalty being awarded to a rapist under the tougher law against sexual abuse passed by the Rajasthan in March.
Under the new law, the death penalty can be handed to those found guilty of raping children under the age of 12. Rajasthan had become the second state in the country to have introduced such a law, after Madhya Pradesh in December 2017.
The judgement was also notable because it was quick by any existing standards of the Indian judiciary. Special Judge Jagendra Kumar Agarwal, of the SC/ ST Court in Alwar, took 12 hearings over 22 days before delivering the verdict.
The incident took place on May 9. A relative was babysitting the child and the 19-year-old, Pintu, took her away. When the parents came looking for the baby, they were told by the relative that the child had been taken away by a neighbour. She was later found crying in a football field, about a kilometre from their home in Laxmangarh, reports said.
The infant received treated in a hospital in Alwar for 20 days. Later, the accused was arrested and the medical examination confirmed the rape.
The new law was brought by the BJP government in Rajasthan as a response to the public outcry over the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua, and the rape of a 17-year-old in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao. Another tough component is that a person convicted under this cannot leave prison for life, even after completing 14 years of the sentence.