A POCSO (protection of children from sexual offences act) court on Wednesday awarded a tripe life-term to a man who was found guilty of raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl two years ago in Kollam, South Kerala. Rajesh, (27), was found guilty by the court on Monday.
Delivering the quantum of punishment, the court said he was spared the death sentence considering his age. But he has to undergo three life terms and an additional jail term of 26 years. The court also observed that all three life terms will have to be served separately. He was sentenced under charges of rape, murder, abduction, unnatural sex, showing disrespect to body and destroying evidence.
The shocking incident occurred in September 2017. Rajesh was the uncle of the victim. According to the prosecution, when her grandmother was taking the girl to school they met Rajesh on the way and he offered to drop her to school. After being assured that he would drop her to school, the grandmother returned home. Instead of taking her to school, the prosecution said, he took the girl to a rubber plantation in his auto-rickshaw. After raping her brutally he strangulated her, according to the prosecution. Her body was recovered two days after she was reported missing.
When relatives started searching for the missing girl, Rajesh was at the forefront and he led a protest against the school saying she was missing from there. But the authorities insisted that she did not reach the school. Later, CCTV visuals from a nearby house revealed that the victim was travelling with Rajesh. Later, Rajesh confessed to the crime and led the police to the spot where he abandoned the body of the victim.
Though the prosecution sought the death penalty, the judge observed that after considering the age of the convict he was excused from the death penalty. The case had triggered shock and outrage in the state in 2017.