Bombay High Court: In a first sentencing of its kind, a bench comprising of Bhushan Gavai and Prasanna Varale, JJ. confirmed double death sentence and double life imprisonment in a case of rape and murder of a two year old girl by her uncle. The sentence was awarded under Section 376-A of the Penal Code, 1860  which was brought through the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2014 after the gruesome Nirbhaya case. This section provides for death sentence for an offence of committing rape and inflicting injury which causes death or causes the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state.

Besides death sentence under Section 376A, the accused was awarded another death sentence under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 for murder by the Yavatmal Sessions Court. He was also sentenced to two life terms under Section 376 (2) of the Penal Code, 1860 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012.

The Counsel for the accused, pleaded for leniency on account for his young age and poor family background and contended that there existed a possibility of him being rehabilitated and not committing any offence in the future.  However, the Court observed that these grounds cannot be mitigating circumstances in a case of such extreme depravity. Dismissing the plea, the Court observed that in the present case, the heinous and gruesome rape and murder of the child victim at the hands of the appellant/accused needs to be dealt with a deterrent punishment like death sentence. [State of Maharashtra vs. Shatrughna Baban Meshram, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 5052, decided on 12-10-2015]

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