Adequate and special reasons a must for granting a lesser sentence to a rape convict: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court has observed that there a person convicted for rape can be awarded a shorter sentence provided the Court finds “adequate and special” reasons for showing such leniency. The observations came through a bench of Justices M YEqbal and Pinaki Chandra Ghose, which was hearing a 20 year old rape case. The convict, a Madhya Pradesh resident Ravindra was sentenced to a jail term. However, the Court permitted him to walk free as his sentence was held to be already undergone.

The Court considered the fact that that the trial was protracted and prolonged, while both the victim and the convict have separately been married already. Referencing a case law, the Supreme Court, considered these facts as constituting “adequate and special” reasons for granting a lesser sentence. The fact that the parties had entered into a compromise, also weighed greatly on the bench.

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Section 376(2)(g) of the Indian Penal Code postulates  a proviso that the Court may venture to impose a sentence for imprisonment for a term lesser than 10 years, it the Courts mention “adequate and special reasons” in the judgment. The Court observed that the case of the appellant (Ravindra) is an appropriate matter for the application of the above proviso considering that that parties have separately married and have since the offence, entered into a special compromise. Such facts, qualified as “adequate and special reasons”, according to the bench.

Earlier, Ravindra had been convicted for rape by a trial court and was sentenced to a term of rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. He had been held guilty of raping a woman in his fields on 24th August, 1994. Though he appealed the judgment of the trial in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the appeal was dismissed in 2013 by the High Court which upheld the guilty verdict and the consequent sentence, observing that while prosecuting an offence of rape, there is no need for corroboration of evidence.

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by Siddhartha Singh.