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KARACHI: A sessions court on Tuesday handed down death sentence to a man in a case pertaining to rape of a minor girl.

The convict, Gulzar Shah, was found guilty of subjecting a 10 to 11-year-old girl to sexual assault within the remit of the Docks police station in 2016.

The additional district and sessions judge (West), Naveed Ahmed Soomro, pronounced his judgement on Tuesday, which was reserved in the last hearing after recording evidence and arguments from both sides.

The judge observed that the prosecution had proved the charge against the man and sentenced him to death as tazir.

“The accused did not deserve any lenient view, as he had committed gruesome offence and the incidents of rape with minor girls have become rampant,” wrote the judge in the three-page judgment.

“It is duty of the court to deal with the offences of this nature without any lenient view in order to create deterrence and peace in the society, where one would not worry about their daughters being ravished on daily basis,” the judge remarked.

Therefore, the court handed down capital punishment to the convict, ordering him to be hanged till death. The court also ordered the convict to pay a fine of Rs500,000 to the victim “for the hurt, anguish, psychological damage caused to the personality and body of the victim”. On default, the convict was ordered to undergo simple imprisonment for six months.

After pronouncing the order, the judge cancelled bail of the convict, who was present in the courtroom, and discharged surety bond. He was taken into custody and sent to prison with a warrant to serve out his sentence.

According to the prosecution, the complainant’s mother registered a first information report (FIR) on November 23, 2016 stating that her daughter aged about 10 to 11 years, was subjected to rape by the accused, Gulzar Shah.

She alleged that her daughter went to a shop in the evening, when the shopkeeper Shah raped her. Subsequently, he was arrested and booked in a case registered under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Later, the investigation officer submitted a final charge sheet before the judicial magistrate concerned, who sent the matter to the sessions court for trial. The court indicted the detained accused, who pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the trial.

During the trial, the prosecution examined eight witnesses, including the minor rape victim.

Defence counsel Nasir Zaman argued that his client was innocent, having nothing to do with the offence alleged by the prosecution and the complainant. The counsel contended that there were contradictions in the material evidence, as the report of the DNA test of the alleged victim was negative while the FIR of the incident was lodged the next day. He maintained that such contradictions made the prosecution’s case doubtful.

In her testimony, the victim’s mother however deposed before the court that on the fateful night she took her daughter to the hospital, but the doctors refused to treat the victim for the injuries she suffered from the sexual assault.

The doctors directed to bring a police letter first, the mother testified narrating her ordeal, adding that she brought the police letter the next day and on the same day the police registered an FIR.

The judge observed that the burden was on the accused to show that either the incident had not taken place inside his shop or that he was not present in the shop when the incident took place, adding that his failure to put dent in the evidence of the prosecution rendered those facts as proved.

Even in his statement recorded before the court under Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the court noted that the accused simply denied the allegations and could not explain why he had been implicated in the case.

He did not even depose on oath or produce any single witness in his defence, which goes against him in the scenario where the prosecution had successfully proved the charge against the accused, the court remarked.

The judge mentioned that it was sufficiently proved beyond any reasonable doubt that this offence had been committed by the accused.

Regarding contradictions in the evidence referred to by the defence counsel, the judge noted that in such cases where honour of the family was shattered the delay was natural. “So, delay is immaterial, especially when the series of events are even not challenged by the defence.”

The court ruled that the evidence of the victim was sufficient to base conviction. Convicting the accused, the judge also sent a reference to the Sindh High Court for confirmation of sentences awarded to him.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018