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Noting that sexual violence was an assault on women’s dignity, the Delhi High Court has upheld the seven years rigorous imprisonment given to a priest who repeatedly raped a 16-year-old here.

The crime took place — of all the places — in a temple.

“A rapist not only causes physical injuries but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman — her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity,” Justice M.L. Mehta said.

“It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity. It degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience,” the judge said last week.

The court observed that this particular “heinous offence was committed by a priest who is regarded as trustworthy and a respected person of the society”.

Justice Mehta’s observation followed a plea from Prem Dass, a priest at a Shiva temple, challenging a 2010 trial court order, stating that the conviction was bad in law.

The high court has maintained the earlier order against Prem Dass, who raped the school-going girl for almost three years.

“Disregarding morality and consequences of his act, he committed such a barbaric offence upon a young girl repeatedly,” the judge said.

“In my considered opinion, the prosecution has brought home the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.”

In July 23, 2007, the girl, then 16, told police that she was first raped by the priest in May 2004 after she fell ill there. He raped her several times after blackmailing her.

She said the priest threatened to “defame” her if she disclosed the crime to anyone.



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