The Meghalaya High Court while dismissing an appeal, refused to interfere with the Trial Court's order sentencing former legislator Julius K. Dorphang to 25 years rigorous imprisonment for raping a minor girl.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh observed that “...This brings to an end the ghastly saga of the rather heinous and dastardly conduct of a person who held high public office. Nothing brought out by the defence in course of the trial could detract from the survivor’s credible account of how she suffered at the hands of the appellant herein.”

The Bench also said that “the society at large owes a huge apology to the brave young survivor for having failed one of its most precious and tender.”

Advocate K. Ch. Gautam appeared for the appellant and AAG N.D. Chullai appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the appellant had challenged the judgment of the Trial Court whereby he was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 376(2)(i) and (n) of the Penal Code, 1860 along with Section 5 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and sentencing him to 25 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 15 lakhs, to be made over as compensation to the survivor.

The survivor, in her testimony under Section 164 CrPC, had narrated her entire ordeal, right from the time that she was lured by the Nepali lady to come to Shillong and through several of the incidents pertaining to other men, apart from the appellant herein.

The Counsel for the appellant argued that the minority of the child was not established during the trial. Further, since two FIRs were registered against the appellant, the trial court consulted the records pertaining to the investigation relating to the first FIR, even to the extent of his identification. However, he was not given a fresh opportunity under Section 313 CrPC.

“Considering that a thorough examination under Section 313 of the Code had been previously concluded, the fact that the appellant was afforded a chance to cross-examine the further witnesses called but was not presented a second opportunity under Section 313 of the Code would not vitiate the conviction or the course of action adopted by the trial court.” said the Court while rejecting the contention.

The High Court observed “...There does not appear to be any glaring infirmity in the judgment of conviction or the consequent sentence pronounced against the appellant on the basis thereof. The trial court dealt with the material before it at great length and justly arrived at the right conclusion by using the appropriate tools of assessment.”

The High Court, regarding the quantum of sentence, noted that the Dorphang was 52 years old at the time and by imposing a sentence of 25 years of imprisonment, the trial court has made sure that “by the time the appellant is let loose again in society his libido would have been sufficiently lessened by age and adequately chastened by the punishment. He will then no longer be able to unleash his lust or indulge in any further virile bravado.”

Concludingly, the High Court directed the State to ensure the continued well-being of the survivor, at least till she reached the age of 25 years. It also directed that the State would be responsible for taking care of all the medical needs of the survivor free of cost and befitting a Grade-II officer of the State for at least the next 20 years.

"In addition, if there is any special programme or working opportunity that is available or for which the survivor qualifies or if there is any late education programme for women where the survivor may be accommodated, the State should provide all assistance to the survivor to lead a remaining normal and healthy life." the Court further directed.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction of the appellant.

Cause Title- Julius Kitbok Dorphang v State of Meghalaya & Ors.

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