A sexual assault on a person is a violation of their human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Monday while condemning a man to a decade in prison for raping his 14-year-old niece.

Rape “is basically an assault on the human rights of a victim. It is an attack on her individuality,” said an SC bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra while upholding a 2003 court judgment convicting a Haryana resident to jail for 10 years for incest and rape.

The offence of rape, said Justice Misra, “creates a scar in the marrows of the mind of the victim.” He added that an attacker violates not just the Indian Penal Code provisions against sexual assault, but also “right of equality, right of individual identity… which is a constitutional commitment.”

The bench was hearing an appeal against the sentence.

“Everyone in a civilised society has to show respect for the other individual and no individual has any right to invade the physical frame of another in any manner,” the court said while refusing to reduce the sentence.

“Regard being to the gravity of the offence, reduction of sentence indicating any imaginary special reason would be an anathema to the very concept of rule of law. The perpetrators of the crime must realise that when they indulge in such an offence, they really create a concavity in the dignity and bodily integrity of an individual which is recognised, assured and affirmed by the very essence of Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said.

The court added that the man did not deserve leniency as he had abused his position of trust with his niece and his family. Further, it said, he had “devilishly” used the position to “manipulate” the young girl. “The appellants, to say the least, had taken advantage of their social relationship with the prosecutrix. She had innocently trusted the first appellant and, in fact, there was no reason to harbour any kind of doubt. The devilish design of appellant No. 1 and the crafty manipulation of appellant No. 2 is manifest,” it said.