New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) Noting that "sexual violence, apart from being a dehumanizing act, is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female", the Delhi High Court has upheld the seven years rigorous imprisonment awarded to a priest for repeatedly raping a 16-year-old girl in a temple in the national capital.
"A rapist not only causes physical injuries, but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman - her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity," Justice M.L. Mehta said.
"It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity - it degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience," the court said last week, while observing that "this heinous offence has been committed by a priest who is regarded as trustworthy and a respected person of the society."
Justice Mehta's remark came on a plea of Prem Dass, a priest at a Shiva temple in north west Delhi, challenging a 2010 trial court order on the ground that there were discrepancies and inconsistencies in the statements of the prosecutrix and hence the conviction was bad in law.
The high court has maintained the order of the trial court that convicted and awarded the seven-year jail term to Prem Dass, who repeatedly raped the school-going girl inside the temple for almost three years.
"The heinous offence was committed by a priest who is respected in the society and considered to be a trustworthy person. But disregarding morality and consequence of his act, he committed such a barbaric offence upon a young girl repeatedly. In my considered opinion, the prosecution has brought home the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt," Justice Mehta remarked while dismissing the plea of the priest.
In July 23, 2007, the girl, then 16, had lodged a complaint with police that she was first raped by the priest inside the temple in May 2004 after she fell ill there, and he ravished her several times after blackmailing her.
In her statement, she stated that the priest threatened her not to disclose this fact to anyone, otherwise she would be defamed and nobody would believe her as he was the priest of the temple.
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