Burhanpur: A local court in Madhya Pradesh has sentenced a man to death for raping and killing a woman while he was out on bail after being convicted earlier for a murder.
While awarding the death penalty to Prakash Lahase, 34, on Thursday, Sessions Judge of Special Court Rajesh Nandeshwar observed, "The case falls in the category of the rarest of rare cases. Such persons are like gangrene in society which has to be removed from the body to save it."
Quoting the judge, public prosecutor Shantaram Wankhede said, "The judiciary has a duty to remove the accused from the society. Criminals will have a free run if they are not punished properly, and the fear in them of deterrent will end."
The public prosecutor said that judge Nandeshwar sentenced Lahase to death under Section 302 (murder) and awarded him life imprisonment on two different counts -- Section 376 (2) (sexual assault) and 364 (kidnapping to kill) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In 38 days, the court examined 38 witnesses before pronouncing the verdict, he said.
Prosecutor Wankhede said that Lahase had kidnapped the 30-year-old victim on May 17 this year from Khadkod village, some eight kilometres from Burhanpur district headquarters.
"He raped the woman at a deserted place and killed her by crushing her head with a stone. He then disposed of the body in a well," Wankhede said.
Judge Nandeshwar, while delivering his verdict, also said that women were feeling "extremely helpless and insecure" following a spurt in rape cases, Wankhede said.
At least 10 rapists have been awarded the death sentence by various courts in the state since February this year.
Under fire for growing number of rape cases, the Madhya Pradesh government had brought a Bill in December last year, a first for the country, prescribing the death penalty for those convicted of raping minors below the age of 12. It also set up 50 fast-track courts to speed up the trial of those accused of rape.
According to statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau released in November last year, Madhya Pradesh accounted for the highest number of rape cases at 4,882 out of a total of 38,947 recorded nationwide in 2016. The figure of 4,882 included 2,479 cases involving minor victims. Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of rape cases (4,391) in 2015 too, according to the NCRB report.