New Delhi: Observing that "love-end can be tragic, but court cannot make it cruel", a city court sentenced a 26-year-old youth to five months in jail for raping his minor girlfriend, but freed him by setting off the sentence against his detention during the trial.
"Love affair between the convict and the prosecutrix was there and continued even after the apprehension of the convict as was evident from the letters written by the prosecutrix to the convict," ruled Additional Sessions Judge Paramjit Singh, while convicting Bihar native Mohd Irshad for raping his 16-year-old neighbour in Jehangirpuri here in 2003.
But imposing a lesser sentence of five months on the convict, the judge said, "Love-end can be tragic, but court can not make it cruel. In view of the peculiar circumstances of the present case, I find it to be a fit case where there exists special and genuine reasons to award lesser sentence."
"Mohd Irshad has been sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period he has already remained in custody during the investigation and trial of this case," the judge said, setting off his sentence against the five month period of his detention.
Under the Indian Penal Code, a person convicted of rape is liable to be punished with minimum seven years of imprisonment, but the courts may impose lesser sentences on special grounds.
The case dates back to January 5, 2004 when Mohd Irshad, then 18, was arrested on charges of kidnapping and raping his 16-year-old neighbour, with whom he had gone missing on November 27, 2003.
The case against Irshad was registered on a complaint by the victim`s father, who alleged that his daughter had been kidnapped.
The victim during her examination deposed in the court that she was taken away by Irshad, who kept her in a room in Mangolpuri area for about one and a half months during which he raped her repeatedly without her consent.
But during her cross-examination, she told the court that she went with Irshad on her own free will. At this, the court dropped the charges of kidnapping against Irshad, saying that "there was no taking or enticing" by the accused.
The court, however, held Irshad guilty of raping the girl saying that as per municipal records the victim was a minor at the time of her rape and her consent or its absence was immaterial in arriving at the guilt of the accused.
But, while sentencing the convict, the court heavily relied upon the fact that there was an affair between the two, taking note of the `love-letters` written by the victim to Irshad, both before and after his apprehension.
"The prosecutrix (victim) was willing and consenting party and it seems that everything has happened with her sweet will and consent," said the judge adding, "In addition, the convict was only about 18 or 19 years of age at the time of the incident."
The court showed leniency to the convict saying that "the guilty has clean antecedents, belongs to a poor family and is the sole bread earner of his family consisting of old age parents, a wife and an infant daughter."