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JOWAI/ SHILLONG: After a wait of five years, rape accused Small Phawa of Riatsasim Jowai, West Jaintia Hills, has been sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for raping a minor girl, who will be compensated with Rs 1 lakh as per the order of the District and Sessions Judge pronounced on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old accused was also fined Rs 5,000 and if he fails to pay the amount, he has to serve another one year in jail.
Pronouncing the verdict, the Judge of the District and Sessions Court in West Jaintia Hills, B. Giri, on Tuesday afternoon convicted the accused under Section 376 of the IPC.
The case was earlier transferred to the District and Sessions Judge by the High Court of Meghalaya. Prior to this, the case was dealt by the fast track court in the district and Phawa was acquitted.
It was on December 2, 2011, the mother of the 14-year-old girl lodged a complaint with Jowai police stating that Phawa had raped her daughter on the evening of November 30, 2011. The girl’s family was Phawa’s tenant in Jowai’s Riatsiatsim locality.
The case had taken different turns as on February 26 last year the ad hoc Judge of the fast track court, O.P. Lytan, said in his order that he was convinced that the prosecution had failed to establish or prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, which entitled the accused to acquittal.
However, against this order, the mother had sought the intervention of the Member Secretary, Meghalaya State Legal Service Authority. In the letter addressed to the Legal Service Authority, she had said she could not appeal against the fast track court’s order in the High Court because she was poor. Later, the case was taken up by the Legal Service Authority.
Though Phawa in 2012 had claimed in a news conference in Shillong that there was no rape since the act was consensual, the mother had maintained that since the victim was a minor, the question of consent did not arise as sexual intercourse with minor was considered was rape.
During the hearing of the case on Tuesday, public prosecutor Y. Shylla wanted maximum punishment with fine imposed on the accused while defence counsel S. Chakravarty submitted that the sentence may be reduced considering the age of the accused, who is 33.
The victim will have to be compensated with Rs 1 lakh by West Jaintia Hills Legal Service Authority within a period of 90 days.