The Delhi High Court has yesterday modified the jail term of five men and awarded them life imprisonment in a gang rape case on the ground that they failed to demonstrate illegality in the judgment convicting them.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Poonam A. Bamba held, “… the appellants have failed to demonstrate any illegality in the impugned judgment convicting the appellants for the offences they were charged with. … Thus, appellants’ sentence of imprisonment under Section 376(D) IPC is modified from ‘life for the remainder of convicts’ natural life’ to ‘life imprisonment’. Fine and sentence in default, shall remain the same. Sentence with respect to other offences does not call for any interference.”

The Bench was dealing with a batch of five appeals filed by the accused persons who were convicted by the Trial Court.

Senior Advocate Vivek Sood, Advocates Rajiv Bajaj, and Kanhaiya Singhal represented the appellants/accused while APP Laksh Khanna represented the respondent/State.

In this case, the appellants had challenged the judgment passed by the Addl. Sessions Judge whereby they were convicted for the offence punishable under Sections 366/34, and 376-D of the Indian Penal Code. The appellants were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life (which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of convicts’ natural life) each for the offence punishable under Section 376-D IPC with a fine of Rs. 5,000/- each, in default of payment of fine, to further undergo simple imprisonment for one year.

As per the prosecution, the victim, a resident of Nepal, was going to Jalandhar to meet her sister and came to Delhi to board a train for Punjab in 2014 when the incident took place. She met one of the five men at a railway station who took her outside on the pretext of getting her food and was instead taken to somewhere else in a van in which the other four co-accused were present. The appellants took her to a room and then gang-raped her.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel observed, “Prosecutrix duly identified all the accused persons/appellants in court. She also identified Rahul @ Raghu, Sunny and Bal Kishan as accused, who took her out from the railway station. Appellant Aman brought the car and all of them along with JCL 'M' took PW-1 in the said car to the room adjacent to Sanitary Depot Nagar Nigam Aushdhalaya, Yamuna Bazar, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, where she was raped by all of them. The fact that appellant Aman raped the prosecutrix in the room is also corroborated by FSL report Ex. PW-33/A.”

The Court noted that the counsel for the appellants prayed for a reduction in sentence on account that they were young men aged about 25 years at the time of the commission of offence.

“They are having their respective families consisting of wives, children, aged parents to support, being the only bread earners of their respective families. They have no previous involvement in any crime except appellant Aman who has been convicted for the offences u/Ss 323/506/341/186/353/427/34 IPC, in FIR no. 35/2014, PS Burari. Ld. Counsel further submitted that appellants have been in custody for last about 10 years. They are remorseful and have learnt their lesson. They be given an opportunity to reform themselves”, further noted the Court.

The Court considering the facts and circumstances in entirety, the background of the appellants, the strata of society they belong to, their age, and that they (except one) are first-time offenders, said that for the offence punishable under Section 376(D) IPC, life imprisonment shall meet the ends of justice.

Accordingly, the Court modified the sentence of the appellants.

Cause Title- Aman @ Sonu v. State (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:4290-DB)

Click here to read/download the Judgment