KANNUR: Taking into consideration the gravity of the offences committed by the first accused and the disastrous consequences of the acts, the court was of the opinion that a strict view has to be taken with regard to the sentence to be imposed upon him. “This is a case in which the first accused, by his sexual adventures, wrecked the life of a young girl. The wreckage was massive. The court is of the view that the sentence to be imposed on the first accused has to match with the gravity of the offences. However, considering the facts that the child born to the victim and the first accused is growing and the child has not had the fortune of meeting his father till date, the court desists from imposing a life sentence upon the first accused,” observed the court.
The accused was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and to pay a fine of `1 lakh for the offence under Section 376 (2) (F) of IPC. The court also awarded 20 years of RI and imposed a fine of `1 lakh for offences under Section 3 (A) read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and 20 years of RI and a fine of `1 lakh for the offence under Section 5 (F) and 5 (J) (II) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act. The court said that substantive sentences will run concurrently.
According to the prosecution, on a day during the month of May, 2016, the first accused induced the victim to go to his bedroom. Thereafter, he committed rape and penetrative sexual assault on the victim.
As a result, the victim became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy on February 2, 2017. Fr Robin told the family of the victim that his name was not to be disclosed and the name of somebody else was to be stated as the father of the child and threatened that otherwise, the victim and her family would be left out from the mainstream of the church. Thereupon, the victim gave a false statement before the police that she was impregnated due to rape committed by her own father. During the investigation, the episode took a dramatic turn and found that Fr Robin had committed rape.
The court acquitted second accused Thankamma alias Annamma, six to tenth accused - Sr Lissmariya, Sr Aneetta, Sr Ophilia Mathew, Fr Thomas Joseph Therakam, former Child Welfare Committee chairman, Wayanad, and Sr Dr Betty Jose alias Achamma Joseph, director, Fatima Mata Hospital, Kalpetta, respectively. These accused were acquitted only because all the witnesses, including the victim, turned hostile in the case. Besides, the Supreme Court had discharged Dr Tessy Jose, gynaecologist, Christu Raj Hospital, Dr Hyder Ali, paediatrician at the hospital, and Sr Ancy Mathew, administrator of the hospital, who were third to fifth accused respectively.
While acquitting the second, sixth and seventh accused, the court observed the prosecution failed to prove they did not provide information to the police with regard to the offence. The court also held the prosecution failed to prove there was a criminal conspiracy among the accused. The call details create some suspicion against the accused. But in the facts and circumstances, the call details cannot lead to a conclusion of existence of a criminal conspiracy.
Twists and turns
The trial began on August 1, 2018. There were many twists and turns which made the case all the more intricate as the father of the rape victim had claimed it was he who impregnated his daughter. But the DNA test of the baby proved beyond doubt that Fr Robin is the real father of the child. Both the victim and her mother had turned hostile during the trial, saying the survivor was not a minor when the rape had taken place.But, this too proved wrong as the birth certificate of the victim clearly showed she was a minor when the crime took place.The police team had to face many difficulties during their investigation as the church and other affiliated institutions had tried to protect the accused and cover up the case.