New Delhi: A 50-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court for sexually assaulting his minor niece, allowing others to gangrape her and forcing her into prostitution.
The court convicted Uttar Pradesh resident Pannu for six offences - rape, gangrape, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement and procuring the girl for prostitution.
Additional sessions judge Virender Bhat sentenced Pannu to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for conspiracy, 10 years jail for rape, 14 years for immoral trafficking and life term, saying the sentences would not run concurrently.
The court said the crime committed by the convict was "abhorrent, diabolic and barbaric." It said he brought the minor from her village after her father's death on the assurance that he would take care of her, but he ill-treated her and made her "prey of his sexual lust".
"He did not stop at that, but made her consume liquor forcibly and then do nude dance, after which she was gangraped by the convict and his associates. Even after this, the convict had no mercy for the minor girl and forced her into prostitution.
"The convict had been doing all this with the tacit approval of his wife," the judge said.
The court said the "beastly and dastardly" acts of Pannu, who was brother of the victim's father, are unpardonable and make him liable for exemplary sentence. It said this was a case of incestuous rape which calls for maximum possible punishment.
A complaint was made to National Human Rights Commission by the employer of the girl after she told her that Pannu used to sexually abuse her and his wife was party to it. A case was lodged against the accused by the police.
The girl had also told the court that after the death of her father, her uncle Pannu and aunt had brought her to Delhi to look after her in 2003 as her mother had left them earlier.
For some time, Pannu kept her properly but then raped her several times when she was 13-year-old, the girl said. Pannu used to forcibly send her with other persons for prostitution and he used to take money from them, she said.
The accused used to threaten to kill and beat her. The girl told her employer, in whose house she was working as a maid, about Pannu's acts and a complaint was registered after which the accused was arrested by Delhi Cantonment police officials.
The court said the girl's evidence was "trustworthy, reliable and inspiring confidence".
Refusing to show any mercy to the convict, the court said, "The minor girl had accompanied the convict and his wife from her native village in the hope that she would be looked after in a proper manner by them. Little did she know about what was in store for her."
It also said poverty of the convict and him being the sole bread earner of the family, which were put forward by his counsel as mitigating factors, are of least importance in view of the nature of the crime he has committed.