An Orissa High Court Bench of Justice SK Sahoo has upheld an order convicting and sentencing a 'Tantrik' for kidnapping, trafficking, and sexually exploiting a minor girl.

In that context, the Bench said that "When it has been established by the prosecution successfully that the victim was minor as on the date of occurrence and her evidence is clear, cogent, trustworthy and above board and it gets corroboration from the evidence of other witnesses and circumstantial evidence that she was taken out of her lawful guardianship by using force and threat was given to her and the evidence of the victim about commission of rape on her on two occasions by the appellant has been successfully established so also about the criminal intimidation part played by the appellant, I am of the humble view that the learned trial Court has rightly convicted the appellant under sections 366/376(2)(n)/506 of the Indian Penal Code."

Counsel Jyotsnamayee Sahoo appeared for the appellant, and Additional Government Advocate Arupananda Das appeared for the respondent.

The appellant, a Tantrik (a practitioner of tantric rituals), was accused of several crimes under the Indian Penal Code. He was charged with kidnapping the victim and forcing her into sexual intercourse against her will. It was alleged that he also intended to compel her to marry someone outside the state or to engage in illicit activities. The appellant was accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the victim at a lodge in Raipur and later in Jaipur.

He then transported her to different places to sell her for monetary gain. Eventually, he sold her to an individual in Gwalior for Rs. 70,000. The appellant threatened the victim, warning her not to report the incidents to the police. The Trial Court found the appellant guilty and sentenced him to ten years of rigorous imprisonment. The appellant appealed to the High Court to challenge the verdict.

The Court observed that according to the provisions of Section 370A of the IPC, if somebody knowingly or having reason to believe that a minor has been trafficked, in spite of such knowledge and belief, the minor is engaged for sexual exploitation in any manner, then the offence would be attracted. In that context, the Court held that "In the case in hand, even though there is no evidence on record that the victim was engaged for sexual exploitation by any other person but there is clear evidence of trafficking of the victim and sexual exploitation by the appellant himself and therefore, I am of the humble view that the learned trial Court has rightly found the appellant guilty under section 370A of the I.P.C."

Accordingly, the Court took the considered view that there was no infirmity of illegality in the impugned judgment and that the punishment imposed was in no way excessive.

Cause Title: Madhusudan Das v. State of Odisha

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