WARANGAL: In a historic judgment hailed as the first of its kind in the country, an accused in the rape and murder of a nine-month-old baby was sentenced to death by hanging within 48 days of the crime here on Thursday.
The first additional judge cum POCSO special court judge K Jaya Kumar passed a sentence of death by hanging to the accused P Praveen, 21, who, on the night of June 18, kidnapped the infant and molested and murdered her. He lifted the baby from her mother in the middle of the night from their residence in Kumarpally in Hanamkonda town.
The accused was caught by the baby's relatives in the wee hours but by that time he had raped and murdered her. The police filed a charge sheet within 21 days while judicial officials took only 48 days to complete the case.
Police registered a case under Sections IPC 376 A, 376 AB, 449, 363, 379, 302 and Section 5 (IM) read with Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2018. The scene at the District Court was jubilant with the parents of the baby K Jagan and K Rachana and other relatives hailing the judgement. The parents said they had waited anxiously for the court's decision and were overjoyed with the verdict.
The accused P Praveen burst into tears after the judgement and said that he was in an inebriated condition but did not commit any crime.
Speaking to the media, the city police commissioner V Ravinder hailed the judgement as historic. "This will act as a deterrent to those with ill intentions and give confidence to the people of the state," he said.
"The police left no stone unturned in gathering all the evidence in a scientific manner. They laboured hard to secure DNA, post mortem, FSL and other reports to ensure that the accused gets maximum punishment. They mobilized over 40 witnesses and we all worked as a team and requested the judicial officials for speedy case trials," he said. The entire investigation was led by ACP Ch Sridhar and inspectors A Sampath and P Sadaiah.
The rape and murder of the infant resulted in a massive outcry by the public who demanded death to the accused. Many NGOs and members of the public demanded that the police hand over the accused to them, saying they would give a suitable punishment by killing him in the open as he did to the infant. Advocates of the Warangal Bar Association declared that they would not argue in favour of the accused expressing sympathies to the family of the infant.