A Special Court under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) in Bihar's Araria recently sentenced an accused person to death for sexual assaulting an 7-year-old child [State v. Md Major]..Special Judge Shashi Kant Rai passed the verdict after a trial which lasted for only four days.The Court said that the accused had committed a brutal crime on a young child without any provocation."The rape of 7 to 8 years child by a man who is aged about 48 years involves extreme brutality, which has always been regarded as an aggravated form of rape. The victim was subject to inhuman acts of torture and cruelty for the sole motive to commit rape with victim. The rape of the victim who was completely innocent without any provocation clearly falls with the category of rarest of rare cases," the Court said..It was the case of the prosecution that the child, who was about 7-8 years was playing near near her house one evening when her mother was in the kitchen. At around 6:30 pm, the accused, who was acquainted with the family came to visit their home, as he often did.After some time, the girl's family could not find her and began searching for her. They finally found her weeping a short distance away from the house at around 10 pm. She told them that the accused dragged her away from the house, took her to a field, threatened her with a gun and sexually assaulted her..In the morning the child's mother, who was also the informant in the case discussed the matter with her husband, and they reported the sexual assault to the Station House Officer.The accused was charged under Section 376(AB) (rape on woman under twelve years of age) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act, and Section 3(2)(V) (offence punishable for a term of 10 years or on the ground that such person is a member of a SC/ST) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. .The Court while examining the evidence noted that the testimony of the informant, who is the child's mother was steadfast and consistent in material particulars, along with all the other witnesses in the case. Appreciating the evidence of the child-survivor, the Court observed her demeanor during her testimony, and noted her evidence to be lucid, with nothing to shake her credibility or trustworthiness. .Medical evidence showed injury on the private parts of the child, blood on her undergarments and a ruptured hymen. Even though there was no presence of spermatozoa, the Court noted that an inference can be drawn from the testimony of the medical officer that the child had been raped.Moreover, the blood and semen which had been found on the pajama which the survivor had been wearing matched the DNA profile of the accused..While considering the contentions of the defence counsel, particularly regarding an inconsistency in the colour of the undergarment, the court noted that in circumstances where a young child had been raped, the mother and the other family members cannot be expected to "speak like a a parrot", that it could be a slip of the tongue, and that the trauma which the mother had undergone should be considered while examining her testimony. .Pertinently, the court said, "the courts are also required to have a change in their outlook, approach, appreciation and attitude, particularly in cases involving crimes against the child and they should exhibit more sensitivity and adopt a realistic rather than a narrow technical approach, while dealing with cases of crime against a child... in such a case it is thus very difficult to have flawless evidence in a crime against child and forceful intercourse with the child where the accused leaves no evidence so he may escape from the clutches of the law.".Regarding the charges under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, the Court noted that the accused was aware that the victim belonged to the Scheduled Caste community, and that this knowledge was sufficient to bring charges under the Act..While awarding the sentence, the Court observed that Section 376 AB provides that an offence of rape on a woman below the age of 12 carries a minimum sentence of 20 years, which can extend to punishment for life, or death penalty. The court examined the meaning of aggravating circumstances and mitigating circumstances, noting that in this case there were only aggravating circumstances as it was a brutal crime of exceptional depravity. .Further, the accused had a criminal history against SC/ST persons, with four cases of sexual assault lodged against him. Life imprisonment would be inadequate to meet the ends of justice, and the case was undoubtedly among the rarest of rare. .While sentencing the accused to death, the Court also directed that the child receive a compensation of ₹10 lakh under Section 357-A (Victim compensation scheme) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the POCSO Rules, 2019.