Kochi (Kerala) [India], September 24 (ANI): Kerala High Court on Thursday upheld the life sentence of a temple priest who repeatedly raped a girl, allegedly minor, of a family he gave shelter to.
However, the division bench of Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Ziyad Rahman AA acquitted the convict, Madhu Narayanan from the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act charges on the ground that the age of the victim had not been proved, but convicted him for rape.
The High Court was hearing an appeal challenging a judgment and order passed by the trial court under the POCSO Act and Section 376 (1) of the Indian Penal Code.
While dismissing his plea, the court questioned the accused so as to which God would accept obeisance and offerings from a priest who molested a girl child.
In its order, the court said, "She was kept away from the school. She didn't have any age proof. But the evidence had established that the victim was subjected to repeated rape by the accused. Therefore, he is convicted with life imprisonment under Section 376 (1) of the IPC."
The convict, a Malappuram native, had given shelter to an abandoned woman and three of her children and had then repeatedly raped the eldest child for almost one year.
The crime came to light when the Women's Cell of Malappuram police received a call on its Childline number that a woman and three children were found wandering on the street. When the police found them, the woman showed signs of acute mental illness.
"When a man abandons his wife and children, roving vultures wait to prey on not only the abandoned woman but also the helpless children. In this case, we have a 'poojari'/'komaram' (priest/oracle in a temple) taking the abandoned woman and the three children under his wing, only to repeatedly molest the elder girl child, that too in the presence of her siblings. We wonder which God would accept the obeisance and offerings of such a priest or make him a medium?" said the court order.
"The accused said that he does not know the mother of the prosecutrix while there was overwhelming evidence as to the accused residing with the mother and her children, and his own child as a family. The mental state of the mother, a shame on society, is quite understandable from the stress of having been abandoned with three children and no means of food or shelter; for which alone the children were subjected to physical, mental and sexual torture. No mother can remain sane in the said circumstances," added the court. (ANI)