New Delhi: A former Army major and his second wife were sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Delhi court today for torturing and trying to kill their minor son from the officer`s first wife.
"You are sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal of Code and six months of imprisonment under section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act. Both sentences shall run concurrently," said Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Virender Bhat.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 60,000 each on Major (Retd) Lalit Balhara and his second wife Preeti Balhara after holding them guilty of battering the minor boy and trying to kill him after the victim`s mother, herself an Army captain, had died in 2000.
The victim`s counsel Ravinder S Garia had demanded the harshest possible punishment for the convicts saying the minor has suffered permanent injury and has been left with `battered baby syndrome` for life.
The boy, now 13, was first brought to the hospital on April 23, 2002 - at the age of three - for treatment of alleged consumption of insecticide by him.
In weeks and months ahead, the hospital virtually became his second home where he was admitted repeatedly for treatment of various injuries ranging from fractured ribs to bleeding skull and smashed teeth and all the time with a starved look.
The Delhi police had filed a charge sheet in the matter against the couple for attempt to murder in 2009, four years after the Delhi High Court ordered a probe into the case.
The case came to light in 2005, when the minor`s maternal
grandparents had moved the high court seeking his custody, accusing his father Lalit Balhara and the officer`s second wife Preeti of torturing him after his mother`s death.
The child was then produced before the court on February 20, 2005. Taken aback by his physical and mental condition, the court had sought a medical report on his condition. The major and his wife were also sent for psychiatric consultation at the Base Hospital, Delhi Cantonment.
The medical report stated that "parents were unable to explain as to why the child sustained injuries and concluded that the minor boy was suffering from a `battered baby syndrome`- a combination of physical injuries such as broken bones, bruises, burns and malnutrition as a result of gross abuse by a parent or caregiver.
After going through the reports, a division bench of the high court on February 28, 2005 had handed over the child`s custody to his maternal grandfather, saying "investigation is needed to ascertain the manner in which injuries have been caused."
During the trial, the boy had deposed against his parents and said he was repeatedly tortured and was locked up in a room without food. He had also said he was often beaten with stick when he would cry. They would also insert the stick in his mouth due to which some of his teeth were broken, he had said.
The couple had denied the allegations saying the child was special by birth and suffered injuries after falling off chairs and tables. The child`s medical report and his statement, however, had proved the case against them.