THANE: A Thane court has awarded three years rigorous imprisonment to a 35-year-old man for molesting a toddler living in his neighbourhood.
District and Sessions Judge S C Khalipe pronounced Vinit Nandkumar Dhanawade guilty under relevant provisions of the POCSO Act and IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with an intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
She also imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 on the accused in her order last week.
According to the prosecution, the accused molested the girl when she went to his house in the Kashimira area on February 26, 2016.
The accused then gave a candy to the girl and threatened to beat her up if she revealed the incident to anyone.
However, the girl told her mother the same day.
Subsequently, the victim's parents questioned their neighbour but he denied the allegations.
The parents then lodged a police complaint on February 29 and the accused was arrested.
Judge Khalipe observed that the delay in the filing of FIR was explained satisfactorily by the prosecution.
The victim was so young at the time of the incident. So, her parents had tried to confirm the incident, but the accused repeatedly denied his role, causing the delay in filing of the FIR, she said.
The judge also said that the victim was three-and-a-half years old and therefore, the oath (at the time of deposition in the court) was not administered to her.
"If no oath is administered, it does not mean that the victim's evidence is not reliable and cannot be considered," she observed.
Considering the facts and evidence produced in the case, the prosecution has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused had molested the girl and there was no reason to disbelieve the girl and her mother, the judge said.