A man who raped and murdered his 11-year-old niece “to satisfy his sexual lust” failed to get reprieve from the Bombay high court.
A division bench of justices VK Tahilramani and PD Kode upheld the life sentence of Bhiva Chapte who had raped his niece and murdered her in the hills after luring her by offering her sweets.
According to additional public prosecutor Shipla Gajare-Dhumal, on February 15, 2005, Chapte visited the victim’s house in a village near Pune where she were playing with her sister and brother. He told her that he would give her money to buy sweets and took her to Gabari jungle nearby. That day neither the girl nor Chapte, who resided in the same village, returned. The girl’s father lodged a complaint with the police.
Her body was recovered from the hills the next day. On the same day, Chapte was arrested. At the time of arrest, his shirt and vest were stained with blood. Chemical analysis revealed that the shirt was stained with semen and the victim’s blood. The post-mortem report showed that the girl had suffered 11 injuries.
Before the trial court, the girl’s sister gave testimony that their uncle had taken her sister (the victim) on the promise of giving her money for sweets. The sessions court in Pune convicted Chapte on the “last seen theory” on October 24, 2007. Chapte had approached the HC challenging this conviction.
Rejecting his appeal, HC observed that the girl was last seen in his company. “In such a case, the accused has to explain how the girl died. In this, section 106 of the Evidence Act provides that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Section 106 does not shift the burden of proof in a criminal trial, which is always upon the prosecution,” the judges said.
They observed that “the injuries on the private part of the girl show that the motive for the offence was to satisfy sexual lust of the appellant (Chapte).” Even Chapte’s wife gave testimony that he was “predisposed towards womanising”, noted the judges .