A special POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) court on Tuesday sentenced a 40-year-old man to 20 years’ rigorous imprisonment for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter and impregnating her.
The conviction was primarily based on the DNA samples from fingerprints which proved that he was the biological father of the foetus that the 14-year-old was carrying.
Special judge Anis Khan said, “The DNA report clearly indicates that the accused is the biological father of the foetus of the girl, who committed repeated rape on her.”
“It is indeed sad, and a very heinous act committed by the accused who is the girl’s stepfather. Though prosecution witnesses 1 [victim’s mother] and 2 [victim] have chosen not to support the prosecution case and have turned hostile, scientific evidence in the form of DNA report on record proved the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubt,” the court said.
Importantly, this is the maximum punishment provided for aggravated penetrative sexual assault under section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012.
As per the prosecution case, the survivor’s biological father was addicted to liquor and therefore her mother had taken divorce from him and married the accused five years ago. Since then, she has been residing with the accused along with her three daughters.
The first incident occurred in October 2019 when the accused sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she shouted. The victim in her statement claimed that thereafter he repeatedly raped her.
On March 10, 2020, the minor’s mother left for Uttar Pradesh to meet her parents and returned on March 13. During this period, the accused sexually assaulted his stepdaughter.
When the girl narrated the entire episode to her mother, she with the help of her relatives lodged a complaint against the accused at Vikhroli police station. When the girl was taken for a medical examination, she was found 16-week pregnant. Her pregnancy was later terminated at Bhabha hospital in Kurla. The accused was arrested on April 4, 2020.
Public prosecutor Pranjali Joshi examined 12 witnesses, including the survivor and her mother, but both of them turned hostile. The prosecution hence relied on the medical evidence of doctors – one who conducted the medical termination of pregnancy and the other who examined her, the chemical analyser who conducted the DNA test, and the police officials who were part of the investigating team.
The survivor in her deposition admitted that she was pregnant but said she was made pregnant by her boyfriend Farooq. However, during cross-examination, she denied it and said that her stepfather was the only earning member in the family and her mother was not willing to keep him in jail.
She also said that she was willing to excuse her stepfather for “whatever wrong” he had done to her and she “did not want to keep him behind bars”. The mother admitted that her daughter had been pregnant, but said she wasn’t aware who was the man she was involved with.