Shillong: Dismissing the appeal for leniency filed by former Independent legislator and rape convict, Julius Dorphang, the Meghalaya High Court said the “society at large owes a huge apology to the brave young survivor for having failed one of its most precious and tender.”
Dorphang, a former militant leader of the outlawed Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.15 lakh by a trial court for raping a minor.
The convict appealed for leniency on various technical grounds.
“The term of imprisonment of 25 years as awarded by the trial court by indicating cogent reasons therefore, does not call for any interference,” a division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh said.
“At the time of the commission of the repeated acts of rape on the same woman in Umiam, the appellant was about 52 years old. By imposing a sentence of 25 years of imprisonment, the trial court has ensured that by the time the appellant is let loose again in society, his libido would have been sufficiently lessened by age and adequately chastened by the punishment. He (Dorphang) will then no longer be able to unleash his lust or indulge in any further virile bravado,” the bench noted.
The court further ordered that the convict would have to pay a fine of Rs. 15 lakhs failing which he would have to undergo an additional five years of rigorous imprisonment.
“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,” the Court said.
The state government would also pay an additional sum of Rs. 5 lakhs to the survivor by way of compensation and 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 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,” the Court said, adding the total amount of Rs.20 lakh must be invested in the name of the survivor within three months.
“The state government would 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,” it said.
Additionally, if there is any special programme or working opportunity for the survivor 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.
Dorphang appealed for leniency by arguing through his attorney that the victim’s age cannot be conclusively proven to be that of a minor.
However, based on several accounts, including the victim’s father, the school headmistress and also scientific evidence produced by a dental surgeon and ossification test conducted by the radiologist, the victim’s age was proven to be around 15-16 years when she was violated, the bench said.
“There does not appear to be any glaring infirmity in the judgment of conviction or the consequent sentence pronounced against the appellant…the trial court dealt with the material before it at great length and justly arrived at the right conclusion…,” the bench ruled.