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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Malappuram POCSO court sentences Noufal to 80 years

A 38-year-old man from Malappuram who raped an 11-year-old minor girl was sentenced to 80 years in prison. A Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) fast-track court completed the trial in record time and pronounced the verdict within a year. Malappuram Manjeri Fast Track Special Court (POCSO Court) Judge K Rajesh sentenced Noufal alias Munna to 80 years in prison and a penalty of Rs 3 lakh.

The case was registered at Manjeri Police Station in June 2021. Malappuram District Police Chief Sujit Das S IPS applied to the court to complete the trial during the custody period itself.

Noufal raped the girl child several times between 19 April and 10 June 2021. The accused is also a friend of the victim’s father. Noufal first raped the child by breaking into her home at night. On another day, he coerced her to his house and raped her again. The complaint also states that Noufal took the child to an under-construction house built by the victim’s father’s brother and tortured her.

Later, the family noticed that the child slept abnormally during the day and was often brooding alone. They took the child to a doctor. Information about the abuse came out when the mother probed the child per the doctor’s instructions.

On 6 June 2021, Manjeri Police Inspector K P Abhilash filed an FIR based on the complaint filed by the child’s father and conducted an investigation. The police arrested the accused on 11 June 2021. Later, C Alavi, who replaced Abhilash, conducted a further inquiry and filed a charge sheet. 

Civil Police Officer Harilal P of Manjeri Police Station assisted the investigating officers in the case. Advocate Soma Sundaram appeared for the prosecution. District Crime Record Bureau (DCRB) Asst. Sub-Inspector N Salma and Senior Civil Police Officer SCPO Shajimol assisted the prosecution.

As mentioned, the trial in the Manjeri POCSO fast-track court took place at a brisk pace. As per the instructions of the district police chief, the Manjeri police had applied to the court to try the accused in judicial custody. The court did not grant bail to the accused to date following the plea filed by the police.

The prosecution alleged that the accused might influence the victim and the complainants and destroy the evidence. Judge Rajesh agreed with this submittal. The investigative prowess of Police Inspector Abhilash, who arrested the accused, and the chargesheet without loopholes filed later by Alavi, accelerated the speed of the case. The prosecution examined 18 witnesses and produced 35 documents and other evidence.

The POCSO court sentenced Noufal as follows. 

  • Twenty years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1 lakh for repeatedly molesting a child.
  • Twenty years of rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs.50,000 for injuring a child during the sexual assault.
  • Twenty years of rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs.1 lakh for molesting a child below 12 years of age.
  • Ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.25,000 for trespassing into a house.
  • Ten years for kidnapping and torture and a fine of Rs 25,000.

The sentences will run concurrently, meaning that Noufal will stay behind bars for a minimum of 20 years, less whatever concessions. There are plenty of such privileges as per Bharatiya laws. The entire fine must be paid to the victim. 

The court also ordered the District Legal Services Authority to compensate the child adequately. This is one of several such toothless authorities that the state maintains for no specific purpose other than eyewash. At best, they move on to a higher court and delay proceedings inordinately. 

Strange laws exist in Bharat, which vary from court to court as per the whims and fancies of judges, creating confusion. This week another POCSO court in Thrissur, Kerala, sentenced a paedophile Christian rapist priest Raju Kokken to just seven years for a similar offence as Noufal. Malappuram and Thrissur share a common border.

In Kokken’s case, the victim was just nine years old when the sexual assault happened. Kokken was granted bail long back. He returned to the same church where the rapes happened, and the court took nine years to conclude.

After all, such cases confirm that all are not equal in the eyes of the Bharatiya law. While Abrahamic godmen (padres & mullahs/maulanas) enjoy special status, Hindus (religious leaders included) are dealt with severely. Christians and Muslims also possess a particular ‘Victim Card,’ which they use well, especially in matters regarding the state.

Allegedly, Noufal was kept under such a tight leash because the victim was also from that same community. Had the victim been a Hindu and the rapist an Abrahamic, all sorts of religious fundamentalist outfits and politicians would have meddled with and muddled the investigation. Noufal’s case shows that the only way to eliminate this menace of atrocities against children is to expose and oppose these paedophiles collectively.

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