16 December 2019
New Delhi: On a day when a most brutal rape happened on the streets of the national capital some years back, another daughter from Uttar Pradesh got justice as former state legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted on Monday by a court in Delhi.
The verdict was much awaited as the ups and downs in the case shocked the nation and even included an alleged assassination attempt said to have been planned by Sengar from behind bars.
While the expelled BJP lawmaker was convicted, his accomplice Shashi Singh was given the benefit of doubt by Special Judge Dharmesh Sharma and acquitted.
Sengar was convicted for rape under the Indian Penal Code and for the offence of public servant committing penetrative sexual assault on a child under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The judgment was based on mobile phone record evidence -- the movement of the accused was not in sync with that of the cell phone.
However, acquitting his aide, the judge observed: "The role of Shashi Singh is in doubt. It is clear that she had taken the girl to the spot. But she didn't know that the incident will take place...
The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on December 19.
The Unnao woman was allegedly kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor.
The rape complaint, however, was registered only after she attempted to immolate herself outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's official residence in Lucknow.
She took the extreme step after her father was thrashed by Sengar's brother, Atul Sengar, taken to jail instead of hospital even though he was grievously injured and died two days later in police custody. The matter came to light after a video clip showing Atul Sengar beating the father went viral on the social media.
Amidst public outrage, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and both the Sengars and two others were arrested.
On July 28 this year, the rape victim was severely injured after the car in which she was travelling was hit by a truck. Two of her aunts were killed in the accident and she and her lawyer were critically injured. The family alleged foul play in the accident.
The Supreme Court, taking cognizance of the rape survivor's letter written to then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had on August 1 transferred all five cases registered in connection with the incident from a Lucknow court to a court in Delhi with directions to hold trial on a daily basis and complete it within 45 days.
The trial in the other four cases -- framing of her father in an illegal firearms case and his death in judicial custody, the conspiracy of Sengar with others in the accident case and a separate case of gang rape of the rape survivor by three others -- are ongoing in the court.
Sengar, a four-time BJP MLA from Bangermau in Unnao district, was expelled from the party in August.
The court had, on August 9, framed charges against the Sengar and Shashi Singh under Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel for marriage), 376 (rape) of the IPC and other relevant sections of the POCSO Act.
During the trial in the rape case which was held in-camera, 13 prosecution witnesses and nine defence witnesses were examined. The mother and uncle of the rape survivor were the main witnesses in the case.
A special court was also held at AIIMS hospital in Delhi to record the statement of the rape survivor, who was admitted there after she was air-lifted from a hospital in Lucknow following the car crash.
She and her family have been provided Central Reserve Police Force security as per apex court orders. They have now been shifted to a rented accommodation in the national capital with the assistance of the Delhi Commission for Women.