Landmark verdict: Odisha court awards lifer to 5 for gang rape in 30 days

Sambalpur: For the first time in Odisha, a fast track court here awarded life imprisonment for five gang rape accused while a juvenile has been sent to a correction home. The court delivered the verdict within a record 30 days.

The court has also slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on the five accused.

The six accused are Afzal Raja, Tinu Sahu, Hadu Panchabihar, Ashirvad Behera, Abhilash Panchabihar and a minor of Sason Bazaaarpada here. They all were found guilty under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

A 14-year-old girl from Sasan town in the district was gang-raped by six people including a minor on May 2, who later hanged herself in her home.

The case was heard by ADJ Santosh Panda who completed the hearing holding court for 14 hours at a stretch.

The prosecution had 21 witnesses who were asked to be present on Saturday.

The Sambalpur police after compeleting the probe had filed chargesheet within 15 days.

Sambalpur superintendent of police Sanjiv Arora said though the victim had committed suicide their purpose was to give speedy justice for her family.

According to police, out of the five, three were primarily accused of raping the girl and the other two were reportedly innocent.

Out of the two, one was a minor who witnessed the incident, while the other happened to be the victim’s boyfriend who was accompanying her when the three accused charged in to sexually assault the teenager.

Meanwhile, the locals and intellectuals claimed that the verdict delivered within 30 days after presentation of chargesheet in the court would boost public faith in courts.

On the other hand, defence counsel Pritiranjan Patnaik alleged the verdict was ‘one sided’ and they will move High Court.

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