WARANGAL: In less than a month of fortifying the POCSO Act with the death penalty, a man accused of rape and murder of a nine-month-old was sentenced to the gallows by POCSO special court judge K Jaya Kumar here on Thursday.
Jaya Kumar, who is also the district first additional judge, broke the nib of the fountain pen after signing the order awarding capital punishment to the accused, P Praveen, which is how the death sentence is pronounced, as per tradition.
The judge fast-tracked the case and awarded the death penalty within a record 48 days since the crime. As required, the order of death sentence was sent to the Telangana High Court for confirmation.
The victim’s parents K Jagan and Rachana came out of the court hall in tears, remembering the horror of the crime, but with a sense of satisfaction that justice had been delivered fast. “I am satisfied with the judgement. It should act as a deterrent to anyone who entertains such nasty ideas,” Rachana said.
There were quite a few people waiting outside the court to learn about the judgement. As soon as it was delivered, they hailed it, arguing that death sentence was appropriate retribution, even as Praveen broke down saying he was under the influence of alcohol, but maintained that he did no wrong.
Commissioner of Police V Ravinder hailed the judgement as historic and the first of its kind in India. “This will act as a deterrent to persons with ill-intentions, and repose confidence that no one can escape from the long arm of the law,” he said.
“The police did a good job of collecting evidence. They secured DNA, post-mortem and FSL reports to nail the accused. They had over 40 witnesses to the crime. We worked as a team and requested judicial officials for a speedy trial,” Ravinder added.
The prosecution argued that Praveen, 21, on the night of June 18, kidnapped, raped and murdered the infant. He picked up the baby when she was sleeping beside her mother on the terrace of their house in Hanamkonda.
The accused was caught by the victim’s relatives in the early hours, but he had already raped and killed her by then. The police filed a charge sheet within 21 days and the court brought the case to a conclusion in 48 days.