Mumbai News

Bombay High Court upholds conviction of security guard who raped dance teacher in Mumbai – Hindustan Times

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld conviction of a 36-year-old Sakinaka resident for sexually assaulting and robbing a dance teacher six years ago.

The victim resided in a housing society in Powai where the convict worked as a security guard. He was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment by a lower court.

The incident took place in 2014. The survivor used to run a dance school at Chandivli. She had gone out to celebrate birthday of a friend on January 23, 2014, where the group drank a lot. The survivor was under heavy influence of liquor, when she was dropped outside her housing society at Powai by one of her friends who accompnied her in the autorickshaw at about 2 am on January 24. She had vomiting sensation after alighting from the autorickshaw, but did not remember what happened immediately thereafter.

Three hours later, her brother found her lying in semi-conscious and half naked condition in the lobby of the building. She had many injuries on her body, including swelling in head and right elbow, bruises on her thighs and bite marks on both breasts – clearly indicating that she was sexually assaulted by someone.

She was taken to a private hospital, which informed police about the incident. The Powai police then registered an offence and arrested Pramod Upadhyay. About a year-and-half later, on May 21, 2015, Mumbai sessions court convicted him for sexually assaulting and robbing the young woman, and sentenced him to 10-year imprisonment.

The sessions court primarily relied on the CCTV footage showing the accused at the spot at the time of the incident. The survivor’s mobile phone, SIM card and battery was found with the accused. The trial court also relied on the forensic odontology report showing that bite marks on the breasts of the victim matched with dental line of the accused.

The 36-year-old then appealed against the order, but high court found no merit in it. It was argued on his behalf that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against him beyond reasonable doubts and there were several material omissions and contradictions which go to the root of the prosecution case and render the testimony of the witnesses unworthy of credit.

Special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade supported the trial court’s verdict. He displayed the CCTV footage on a computer screen in high court and strenuously argued that the circumstances formed a complete chain indicating Upadhyay’s complicity. “There is no question of any third person being involved in the crime and there is no reason to implicate him falsely,” said Bgade.

The special prosecutor maintained that “the evidence of the odontologist was so cogent and convincing that there was hardly any scope to raise any doubt about the genuineness of the prosecution case.”

Justice Prithviraj K Chavan accepted the prosecution case and rejected the security guard’s appeal, saying the evidence on record unerringly pointed towards his guilt. Commenting on the the CCTV footage, the judge said it showed that initially the accused minutely observed the condition of the survivor, who was totally inebriated due to consumption of liquor. He waited for a proper opportunity till the time she was left alone and then executed his nepharious design in a calculated manner.

He then took the music teacher to a secluded place – where again he was partially caught by CCTV cameras – within the society building and brutally raped her and also stole her belongings, the judge said.

“The appellant as a security guard was duty bound to guard and protect the members of the society and their property,” said justice Chavan commenting on Upadhyay’s conduct. “However, the appellant, took disadvantage of his position and instead of helping the victim girl who was fully under the influence of alcohol, to reach her flat, raped and robbed her.”