Expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar convicted, CBI pulled up
A Delhi court on Monday convicted expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of raping a teenaged girl in Unnao in 2017, saying the victim’s testimony was “truthful and unblemished” against a “powerful person”.
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 court will hear arguments on the quantum on sentence on Wednesday. The offences entail maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
District Judge Dharmesh Sharma, however, acquitted co-accused Shashi Singh of all charges.
Convicting Sengar, 53, under the 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 statement truthful and unblemished that she was sexually assaulted. She was under threat, worried. She is a village girl, not from cosmopolitan educated area.… Sengar was powerful person. So she took her time…,” the judge said while reading out the verdict.
When the judge started pronouncing the verdict, co-accused Singh fainted.
The court noted that after the victim wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, several criminal cases were filed against her family and “imprints of Sengar” were visible in them.
The court expressed surprise over the delay by the CBI in filing the chargesheet in the rape case and said it prolonged trial against Sengar and others. 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”.
It expressed displeasure over the agency leaking selectively vital information relating to the statement of the survivor to cast a cloud over her case.
The court said that “according to the law, there should be female officers in CBI to record statement of victims in such cases but surprisingly the girl was called many times to CBI office instead of going to her residence”.
It noted that investigation in such cases has to be conducted by a woman officer as mandated under Section 24 of the Pocso Act but the successive statements of the victim girl had been recorded by calling her at the CBI office “without bothering for the kind of harassment, anguish and re-victimisation that occurs for a victim of sexual assault in such case”.
Referring to the Pocso, which had come into being to impart expeditious justice involving children as victims of sexual assault, 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 that the CBI itself was not following the manual relating to investigation and prosecution.
The girl was kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor. The court had also framed charges against co-accused Shashi Singh in the case.
Sengar, a four-time BJP MLA from Bangermau in Uttar Pradesh, was expelled from the BJP in August 2019.
The court had on August 9 framed charges against the MLA and Singh under Sections 120 b (criminal conspiracy), 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel for marriage), 376 (rape) and other relevant sections of the Pocso Act.
The trial was held in-camera after the Supreme Court transferred the matter from Uttar Pradesh to the national capital.
A special court was also held at AIIMS hospital here on September 11, 12 and 13 to record the statement of the rape survivor, who was admitted there after she was air-lifted from a hospital in Lucknow.
The judge heard the case on a day-to-day basis from August 5.
On July 28 this year, the car of the survivor was hit by a truck and she was severely injured. Her two aunts were killed in the crash.
Her father was allegedly framed in an illegal arms case and arrested on April 3, 2018. He died while in judicial custody a few days later, on April 9.