Ahmedabad, Jun 20: City Sessions Court Judge Jyotsana Yagnik today sentenced prime accused Sajal Jain and four others to life imprisonment in the infamous Bijal Joshi gang rape case.
Sajal Jain, the victim's boyfriend, along with Chandan Jaiswal, Mandan Jaiswal, Sugam alias Monty Jaiswal and Dharmendra Jain raped her in a hotel room in the Shahibaug area of Ahmedabad during the new year party on the night of December 31, 2003. In jampacked court room, Judge Yagnik awarded life sentence to the five accused for raping 24-year-old Bijal Joshi while she set the seven other accused free, giving them benefit of doubt. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 60,000 each on the accused.
The court has acquitted seven people namely Harishankar Jaiswal, Shreya Jaiswal, Seema Jaiswal, Ashok Patel, Pannalal Jaiswal, Anand Jaiswal and medical officer Y Jadav, who were arrested on the charges of assisting in destroying the evidence in the case, by giving them benefit of doubt.
All these acquitted people were released on bail by the Sessions Court earlier. Bijal Joshi had committed suicide, as she believed the police were favouring the accused in the investigation. The rape and subsequent suicide of Bijal generated nationwide protests. Women's groups and social activists condemned police handling of the case. The families of the accused were blamed for trying to destroy the evidence by flexing money power.
Those acquitted in the case include Ashok Patel, who allegedly with sheltering some of the accused at his home in Anand, Harishankar Jaiswal Sugam's father, who owned the Ashok Palace hotel where the rape took place, his mother Seema and sister Shreya, former Chief Medical Officer of the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital Y Jadav and Delhi-based Millenium hospital's J S Gambhir.
Harishankar Jaiswal, Seema and Shreya were charged with destroying evidence, while Gambhir was charged with sheltering Sajal under the pretext of illness.
The case showed signs of crumbling two months after Bijal's gangrape, when the Ahmedabad police had to collect blood samples of Chandan and Mandan for the second time after forensic experts said prerequisite scientific procedures had not been followed.
Allegations of callousness were levelled at these investigations, since Bijal approached the police to file a complaint.
Six police officers were suspended and Jadav was booked for criminal negligence, while conducting medical examination of the rape victim.
The senior Jaiswals were blamed for destroying the bedsheets of the room, where the alleged gangrape took place, thus eliminating traces of semen. However, the DNA samples analysed by the Directorate of Forensic Sciences matched with that of Sajal's and Sugam's.