A Meerut court on Friday sentenced a man to life imprisonment for attempting to rape a 100-year-old Dalit woman. The incident occurred in 2017 and the woman had died of shock during the medical investigation.

“The convict has been found guilty under Sections 302, 376/511, and 458 of IPC and has been sentenced to life imprisonment. A penalty of ₹25,000 has also been imposed on him,” said Nishant Kumar Garg, the special public prosecutor who represented the State in the court.

According to the order, passed by Mohd. Ghulam Ul Madar, Special Judge (SC/ST Act), Meerut, the incident happened on the night of October 29, 2017 in Raghunathpur village under Jani police station of Meerut, when the convict, Ankit Punia, a neighbour of the victim, trespassed into her residence in a state of drunken stupor and tried to sexually assault her.

When the victim’s grandson and his wife rushed out, after hearing the cries of their grandmother, they found the convict lying over the victim.

“The grandson raised the alarm and caught Ankit, in his mid-30s, but he managed to escape. The victim was taken to the government hospital, where she passed away the next day during the medical check-up. The post mortem report said the victim was already ill because of age-related issues but died because of the shock caused by the assault,” said Mr. Garg, adding that the convict was, however, acquitted of charges under Sections 3(2) 5 of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The lawyer of the convict had argued that the victim’s family had owed ₹1 lakh to Mr. Punia’s family and that they filed a false case against his client so that they did not have to repay the loan and get compensation from the government. “As he could not produce any documentary proof, the honourable judge did not take his argument into account,” said Mr. Garg.

“There was no motive. Heavily drunk, he just could not hold his sexual urge,” said Mr Garg. “It is the same as some perverts assault infants and kids,” he argued. The judge described the act as heinous and said a lighter punishment would send an adverse message to society.

However, the judge did not find the case to fall in the rarest of rare category, and hence, the accused was awarded life imprisonment.

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