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Jail tolls for rapist, not wedding bells
- Victim waves off marriage bait, court says proposal made with mala fide intent

New Delhi, May 4: A ward boy who raped and partly blinded a nurse in a Delhi hospital and two years later offered to marry her, just before the sentence against him was to be read out, has been handed life imprisonment.

The victim shrugged off the marriage proposal as a 'bogus offer' made to escape punishment and demanded that 24-year-old Bhura be hanged.

Bhura was today sentenced to life imprisonment each under Section 376 of the IPC for rape and Section 326 for causing grievous injury. He was sent to jail for a year for causing illegal confinement. All the sentences will run concurrently. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000. If he fails to pay up, the rapist will have to undergo three more years of simple imprisonment.

The judge who had deferred his verdict yesterday, after Bhura filed an application offering to marry the victim 'because no one else would', today said the proposal was made with a 'mala fide intention to evade the law'.

After convicting Bhura for the brutal rape of the nurse, then 19, during which he had gouged out her right eye and wounded the left, additional sessions judge J.M. Malik was about to announce the sentence yesterday when Bhura's counsel said he wanted to marry the victim.

Examining the application, the judge asked the victim and her parents to appear before the court today to file their reply. The court also reserved the sentence for a day.

The nurse was on night duty at the private Shanti Mukund Hospital in east Delhi in September 2003 when she was assaulted.

Looking after a comatose patient, she awoke in the middle of the night to find the convict trying to force himself on her. When she resisted, Bhura plunged his fingers into her eyes, gouging out her right eye and wounding the left. He then dragged her to an adjacent bathroom, raped her and locked her in. She lay unconscious and bled through the night.

When she was found, Shanti Mukund Hospital did not treat her and referred her instead to Guru Tegh Bahadur hospital, where doctors did not attend to her for three days.

As a result of the delay, the victim lost sight in her right eye. She had to undergo four major facial operations and psychiatric treatment for depression.

The victim, who appeared in court with her parents, said in an affidavit: 'The convict has committed a horrendous crime which should not be repeated. After he was found guilty, he is trying to escape punishment with the bogus offer... he should be hanged.'

The court's move to reserve the sentencing for a day after the marriage offer sparked an outcry from women's groups which said the punishment should have been handed immediately.

'It is totally outrageous and insulting and will set a bad precedent,' said activist Brinda Karat.

Nirmala Sitaraman, a member of the National Commission for Women, said a rapist should not be allowed to make such an offer to a victim. 'It is not for him to make marriage offers. The marriage offer, coming after such a gruesome rape, is atrocious.'

Bhura's counsel said he would appeal against the ruling in the high court.

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