Unnao rape case: Convicted Kuldeep Singh Senger's sentencing deferred to Dec 20
New Delhi, Dec 17: The Delhi court on Tuesday deferred the sentencing of expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar who was convicted for raping a woman in Unnao in 2017, to December 20.
Lawyers representing Senger had sought for minimum punishment from the court. His lawyers stated that Senger was in public life for decades. He has served the society and done lots of welfare works for upliftment of the people.
The court convicted Sengar for rape under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act for offence by a public servant committing penetrative sexual assault against a child.
The recent amendments made in August this year in the POCSO Act, which carries a provision of death penalty, will not be applicable in the case as the incident took place in 2017.
The court had earlier fixed the date for hearing quantum on sentence on December 18. However, the matter was later preponed for tomorrow after Sengar's counsel made a request in this regard.
The woman co-accused in the case Shashi Singh was acquitted of all charges by District Judge Dharmesh Sharma, who gave her "benefit of doubt" and said that the CBI failed to prove that she was a co-conspirator with Sengar in the act of sexual assault committed upon the victim and "it appears that she herself was a victim of circumstances".
Convicting Sengar, 53, under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the court said the CBI proved that the victim was a minor and he was rightly prosecuted under the special law.
"I found her (victim) statement truthful and unblemished that she was sexually assaulted," the judge said, adding that the victim was "under threat" and was "worried".
"She is a village girl, not from cosmopolitan educated area. Sengar was a powerful person. So she took her time," the judge said while reading out the verdict. The court noted that it was proved by the prosecution that the movement of Sengar on the fateful day was not in sync with the movements of his three mobile SIM cards operating on his two mobile phones.
When the judge started pronouncing the verdict, co-accused Singh fainted, while the MLA, who was sitting beside his sister, started crying moments after the judgment was pronounced.
The court noted that after the victim wrote letter to the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, several criminal cases were filed against her family and "imprints of Sengar" were visible in them.
"The testimony of the victim girl has been unblemished, truthful and has been proved to be of 'sterling quality' to arrive at a conclusion that she was sexually assaulted by Sengar at her resident on June 4, 2017," it said.
The judge said, "I find that the prosecution has been able to prove the guilt of the accused Sengar beyond reasonable doubt and therefore, he is convicted under section 376 (rape) of IPC read with section 5 (c) and 6 (public servant committing aggravated sexual assault on a minor and its punishment) of the POCSO Act," he said. The court expressed surprise over the delay by the CBI in filing charge sheet in the gang rape case and said it had halted the progress against Sengar and Singh in the rape case.
In a separate case, the same woman was allegedly gang raped later by three other persons on June 11, 2017 in Unnao. The trial is yet to commence in that case. The court also found that the delay of two months and ten days in reporting the crime of rape to the police was satisfactorily explained by the survivor. "The investigation suffered from the 'patriarchal approach' or the inherent outlook to brush the issues of sexual violence against the children under the carpet," it further said.
"The instant case manifests the multitude of restrictions and taboo within which many women in the rural areas are brought up, grow and survive. It epitomises the fear ingrained in the mind of young girl in the countryside or elsewhere against reporting the issues of sexual assault by a powerful persons.
"In my considered opinion, this investigation has suffered from patriarchal approach or inherent outlook to brush the issues of sexual violence against the children under the carpet apart from exhibiting lack of sensitivity and humane approach. "It appears that somewhere investigation in the instant case has not been fair qua victim of crime and her family members," the judge said, while expressing displeasure over the agency leaking selectively the vital information relating to the statement of the survivor to put a cloud over her case.
The court pulled up the CBI for the absence of women officer in conducting the probe "without bothering for the kind of harassment, anguish and re-victimisation that occurs for a victim of sexual assault". Referring to the POCSO, the court said there was "nothing wrong" with law but its ineffective implementation on ground and lack of human approach of officers concerned led to a situation where justice was delayed. It said the CBI itself was not following the manual relating to investigation and prosecution. Sengar's counsel said he will challenge the trial court verdict before the Delhi High Court.
On July 28 this year, the car of the rape survivor was hit by a truck and she was severely injured. The woman's two aunts were killed in the accident and her family had alleged foul play.
The trial in the other four cases -- framing of the rape survivor's father in illegal firearms case and his death in judicial custody, 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.