The Meghalaya High Court has decided not to interfere with the judgment of the trial court which sentenced former Mawhati legislator Julius Dorphang to 25 years in imprisonment for raping a minor girl even as it directed that the survivor be paid compensation of Rs 20 lakh.
“Accordingly, the term of imprisonment of 25 years as awarded by the trial court by indicating cogent reasons therefor, does not call for any interference,” the division bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said in its judgment while dismissing the appeal filed by Dorphang.
The Court said considering the age of the convict, such a tenure could be 15 years or 20 years or 30 years or any number of years in between. The discretion that is exercised is for the benefit of the convict by not awarding the maximum sentence permissible.
“In such a scenario, even though there is no specific prescription in the provision for awarding a sentence of 15 years or 20 years or 22 years of imprisonment if such tenure is indicated, it will be deemed to fall within the bandwidth of discretion made available to the court by the relevant provision,” it added.
Dorphang was challenging the order dated August 24, 2021 passed by the Special Judge Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), FS Sangma in Ri-Bhoi district which sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the Court has directed the State to ensure the continued well-being of the survivor, at least till she reaches the age of 25.
“The fine, if paid, and a total amount of compensation not less than Rs.20 lakh, should be provided by the State to the survivor by way of investments that would mature on a periodic basis for her to receive the same. In other words, the State will pay a further Rs.5 lakh to the survivor by way of compensation, in addition to the sum of Rs.15 lakh that she receives from the fine. If the appellant does not pay the fine and serves a further five years of rigorous imprisonment, the State will make over the equivalent amount of Rs 15 lakh to the survivor,” it said.
“The total amount of Rs 20 lakh must be invested in the name of the survivor within three months from date with the State taking adequate measures to ensure that the entire amount is not squandered in a hurry or the survivor is cheated of any part of it by any other person,” the Court added.
The judgment further stated that the State will also be responsible for taking care of all the medical needs of the survivor free of cost and befitting a Grade-II officer of the State for at least the next 20 years.
In addition, if there is any special programme or working opportunity that is available or for which the survivor qualifies or if there is any late education programme for women where the survivor may be accommodated, the State should provide all assistance to the survivor to lead a remaining normal and healthy life, it said while asserting “The society at large owes a huge apology to the brave young survivor for having failed one of its most precious and tender.”
Further, the Court stated that nothing said herein and nothing done pursuant to this judgment and order will stand in the way of the proceedings arising out of the FIR filed on behalf of the survivor at Madanryting being brought to a logical conclusion in accordance with law.