Girl’s murder: Gallows for main accused, lifer for co-accused
IMPHAL5th Feb: After the landmark judgment in August 2018 wherein a youth convicted in rape and murder of a minor girl in Mao area was sentenced to death, Sessions Judge Senapati A Noutuneshwari Devi on Tuesday announced death sentence of the prime accused and life time imprisonment of the co-accused in connection with the death of one Pukhrihongbam Memi Chanu (26) of Kshetrigao Thambalkhong Makha Leikai in August last year.
The court also pronounced three and half years simple imprisonment for two women who were found guilty of abetting the crime in the form of destroying evidences.
Tuesday’s judgment by the Sessions Judge also created a record of sort as completion of the trial process within 20 days of submission of the police charge-sheet was the swiftest ever in the legal history of Manipur.
For the record, the investigation officer (IO) of the case placed the charge-sheet on January 15 which was followed by the Court examining and recording statements of 28 prosecution witnesses and declaring the conviction order on Monday against prime accused Yumkhaibam Rohit alias Rajesh (29) s/o Late Y Riyajuddin of Khergao Makha Leikai; co-accused Md Farish Shah (18), s/o Late Faruk Shah of Kshetrigao Thambalkhong Makha Leikai; Kehena (50) d/o Abdullah of Khergao Makha Leikai and Farjina (23) d/o Habi of Khergao Makha Leikai.
During the sentence hearing, the Sessions Judge observed: “Considering the nature of the case, it is inclined that the type of such case will fall under the category of the rarest of rare and there is no mitigating factor to deter in other alternative punishment. In my considered view, maximum punishment should be awarded and it should be an eye opener for the society at large in order to prevent such brutal and heinous crime in our society”.
“This court has delivered justice to the victim as well as to the society only through the earnest efforts given by the investigating agencies especially the IO of the case namely Mr Sony Siem Go Sang, MPS, SDPO-Kangpokpi,” Noutuneshwari mentioned. She further announced that ‘Rohit is sentenced to death with a fine of Rs 1000 and shall be hanged till death and Md Farish Shah is sentenced to life imprisonment with fine of Rs 1000’.
Regarding Rehena, the court said that the co-accused should undergo three years simple imprisonment with fine of Rs 1000 and in default of payment of fine, the sentence term will be extended by another month while Farjina will serve six months simple imprisonment.
The period served judicial custody by the women convicts will be commuted from the total sentence term.
Further, the Court recommended award of Rs 10 lakh to Gourasing Meetei, who is the victim’s father, as per NALSA’s Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes, 2018.
The District Legal Services Authority, Senapati was advised to ensure payment of the said amount within 60 days with effect from receipt of the order.
The sentence hearing was conducted in the presence of Additional Public Prosecutor Koshia Mao who represented the State of Manipur and legal aid counsel SP Thomas who was the counsel for convicts Rohit and Md Farish Shah. Ch Bimochandra Singh was the counsel for Rehena and Farjina.
In his presentation, Koshia Mao revealed that Rohit, which was convicted u/s 302/201 IPC, committed the most heinous offence of torturing and brutally murdering the girl.
While sympathising with the victim girl’s suffering, the Addl PP said that Rohit strangulated and hit the girl’s head and face with wooden stump and pestle stone several times.
It was also revealed that Rohit removed gold ornaments of the victim and sold it to Rashid & Sons Jewellery Store, Masjid Road, Imphal for Rs 59,000. The ornaments consisting of necklace and earrings have been impounded and handed over to the victim’s father after the sentence hearing Tuesday.
On his way back from the jewellery store, Rohit gave Farish Rs 7000 not to reveal about the girl’s death and to help him (Rohit) dispose the body, which the duo subsequently dumped into Iril River on August 14 night around 11.30 o’clock.
Expressing concern that crime against women in general has been on the rise in the state, Koshia described as “irony that while we are celebrating Women’s Rights and observing Women’s Day in all spheres, we show little or no concern for her honour. A murderer destroys the physical body of the victim and degrades the very soul of the helpless girl. Such a crime has shocked the collective conscience of the society at large.”
On the other-hand, the convicts’ counsel SP Thomas, while submitting that both Rohit and Farish Shah are orphans facing dire financial condition, sought for leniency while sentencing them while the counsel for Rehena and Farjina said that Rehena is a widow and bread earner of her family. “She is illiterate and she does know the prevailing law of the country and ignorant of law and as such she may be excused for offence committed by her.”
Rehena reportedly cleaned the room of her house unaware of the fact that the crime was committed there. Farjina, according to the counsel, was not only unwell at the time of the murder but was also unaware of where to lodge the complaint, the counsel stressed.
It may be mentioned that Memi’s body was fished out from Arapti Khetukhong Awang Leikai area of Iril River.
As a part of the investigation, police had also arrested one Leishangtham Nungchanba alias Romesh of Leishangthem Awang Leikai in Thouba district but he was acquitted from the case on Monday as the Court found no prima facie evidence of his involvement in the crime.