Rape and murder of 9-month-old baby: Telangana HC commutes convict’s death penalty

The rape and murder of the baby in Hanamkonda in June had triggered widespread protests.
Rape and murder of 9-month-old baby: Telangana HC commutes convict’s death penalty
Rape and murder of 9-month-old baby: Telangana HC commutes convict’s death penalty
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The Telangana High Court on Saturday commuted the death sentence of P Praveen, the accused in the abduction, rape and murder of a nine-month-old baby in Hanamkonda, Warangal, in June. Praveen’s death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, with no scope to be released till his last breath, the court said while upholding the conviction.

After a Warangal court awarded him death penalty in August, the accused had challenged the court's judgment and had moved the High Court.

A division bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy, observed that convicts should be given a chance to reform. Stating that Praveen will not be released from prison, the court said that he could be reformed to a certain extent and still become a ‘role model’ for other prisoners.

The HC noted that the 25-year-old has ‘never committed a grievous crime’ and the prosecution did not produce any evidence to show that he is beyond reformation. “Imposing the death penalty would mean the society and the state admit that they are incapable of reforming the accused,’’ the court observed

On June 19, Praveen, a resident of Hanamkonda in Warangal, abducted a nine-month-old infant, when she was sleeping with her parents on their terrace. The police said that Praveen took the baby to a secluded place, two colonies away, gagged and raped her.

He was caught red-handed by the family and neighbours who were searching for the baby. He tried to flee but was caught and handed over to the police.

The incident had led to widespread outrage and anger, with protests breaking out across the state, demanding strict action against the accused.

The police booked Praveen under sections 376 (rape), 366 (abduction of a woman) and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCS) Act, 2012.

Incidentally, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (POCSO), which was ratified by the Parliament this year, made the punishment for committing sexual crimes against children much more stringent. It also included the death penalty for the accused in the 'rarest of rare' cases.

The trial in the case concluded in just two months, as the Warangal police filed a chargesheet by collecting all the necessary forensic evidence and producing several witnesses, along with CCTV footage.

After the speedy trial in August, a Warangal court awarded death penalty to the accused.

Terming the crime “inhuman” and “heinous”, the Warangal Bar Association had also taken a decision that none of its advocates will take up the defence of the accused.

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