Consent of minor girl is immaterial and not a mitigating circumstance for reducing sentence in a rape case

Delhi High Court:  Disposing of an appeal challenging the conviction and sentence under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Penal Code, 1860, the Court observed that “From the evidence on record, the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecutrix was of 13 years 9 months of age at the time of incident and Raju having allured and enticed the prosecutrix. Thus, her consent was immaterial for the reason she was a minor.”

In response to the appellant’s contention that since from the letters of the prosecutrix it is apparent that she was a consenting party having an affair with the appellant, the sentence of the appellant be reduced, the Court observed that “Section 376 IPC prior to the amendment carried out w.e.f. February 03, 2013, provided that the offence of rape of a woman under 16 years of age with or without her consent was punishable with imprisonment of not less than seven years but which may extend for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and payment of fine, provided, the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years”.

The Court held that “Since the consent of a girl below the age of 16 years is immaterial, the same cannot be treated as a mitigating circumstance so as to award a sentence lesser than 7 years rigorous imprisonment however on the facts and circumstances of the case, the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for 10 years for offence punishable under Section 376 IPC and rigorous imprisonment for 7 years each for offences punishable under Sections 363 and 366 IPC is on the higher side.”

The Court observed that as per Section 376 IPC, the minimum sentence prescribed for the offence of rape of a minor below 16 years is 7 years and hence the sentence of the appellant cannot be reduced to the period already undergone. The appellant’s sentence was modified to 7 years’ RI for the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC with a fine of Rs 10,000 and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for one month,; 4 years’ RI for the offences under Sections 363 and 366 IPC with fine of Rs 2000, and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for one week on both counts. [Raju Kumar Verma @ Raju v. State (Govt. of NCT) of Delhi, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 2993, decided on May 17, 2016]

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