BJP leader and former party MLA Kuldeep Sengar has been convicted in the Unnao rape case. Delhi's Tis Hazari Court reserved its verdict on December 10 in the case of kidnapping and rape of the woman in 2017, when she was a minor. Following the nation-wide outrage, BJP was forced to expel Sengar who was associated with the party for 17 years.
During in-camera proceedings, District Judge Dharmesh Sharma had said he was likely to pronounce the verdict on December 16 after the conclusion of the hearing of final arguments by the CBI and the accused in the case. The judge heard the case on a day-to-day basis from August 5 after it was transferred to Delhi from a court in Lucknow on the Supreme Court's direction.
The court convicted Sengar for rape under the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act for the offense by a public servant committing penetrative sexual assault against a child. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on Wednesday. The offenses entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. District Judge Dharmesh Sharma, however, acquitted co-accused Shashi Singh of all charges. 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 statement truthful and unblemished that she was sexually assaulted. She was under threat, worried. She is a village girl, not from a cosmopolitan educated area... Sengar was a 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 expressed surprise over the delay by the CBI in filing the charge sheet in the rape case and said it prolonged trial against Sengar and others.
The woman was kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor. Sengar, a four-time BJP MLA from UP's Bangermau, was expelled from the party in August 2019. The court had on August 9 framed charges against the MLA and Singh under Sections 120b (criminal conspiracy), 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel for marriage), 376 (rape) and other relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
On July 28 this year, the woman who had accused Sengar was severely injured after the car in which she was traveling was hit by a truck. Two of her aunts were killed in the accident and her family had alleged foul play. The woman's 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. During the trial in the rape case which was held in-camera, thirteen prosecution witnesses and nine defense 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 here to record the statement of the rape survivor, who was admitted thereafter she was air-lifted from a hospital in Lucknow following the car crash. The woman and her family have been provided CRPF security as per the apex court's orders. They have now been shifted to rented accommodation in the national capital with the assistance of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).
(With PTI inputs)