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Unnao Rape Case: Kuldeep Sengar’s Quantum of Punishment on 20 Dec

The judge heard the case on a day-to-day basis from 5 August after it was transferred to Delhi from Lucknow Court. 

Updated
India
6 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar

Video Producer: Aparna Singh

Delhi's Tis Hazari Court on Tuesday, 17 December, adjourned the arguments on quantum of punishment of former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar to 20 December. It also sought a copy of his affidavit, filed before the Election Commission in 2017.

In the hearings on deciding the quantum of sentence on Tuesday, CBI sought life imprisonment stating that he deserves “maximum punishment.”

On Monday, Sengar was convicted by a Delhi trial court for the rape of a minor woman in Unnao in 2017. Judge Dharmesh Sharma pronounced the verdict to a packed courtroom at the Tis Hazari courthouse, with the survivor’s mother present.

CBI told the trial court that apart from the severe sentence, the victim must be given compensation. However, the Additional District Judge Dharmesh Sharma said that Rs 25 lakh compensation had already been given along with accommodation facilities to the girl.

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Meanwhile, Mir, Sengar’s counsel stated, “Court must take into account his work for society and his record. It must take lenient view and give minimum sentence.”

Sengar has been convicted under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault of a child) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), as the court found that the girl was a minor at the time of the offence.

The court has not announced the quantum of punishment for Sengar. Arguments on sentencing are to take place on Tuesday, 17 December, at 12:30 pm. The maximum punishment he could face is life imprisonment.

Sengar’s co-accused, Shashi Singh, was acquitted after the judge decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Singh was alleged to have brought the girl to Sengar’s house. Sengar

Sengar and his family broke down upon the announcement of the verdict. Singh also broke down when the judge passed adverse comments about her conduct in the matter, and had to be informed that she had not been convicted.

Key Highlights of Verdict

The Quint has accessed a copy of the judgment of the court. The verdict convicting Sengar includes the following important findings:

The survivor was proved to be a minor beyond reasonable doubt on the date of the commission of the offence (4 June 2017) on the basis of evidence from witnesses from her school.

The survivor’s testimony was “unblemished, truthful and has been proved to be of ‘sterling quality’ to arrive at a conclusion that she was sexually assaulted by Kuldeep Singh Sengar”.

The survivor was able to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delay of 2 months and 10 days in reporting the incident. She and other witnesses from her family described how Sengar threatened to harm her and her family if she made a complaint, threats which were borne out by how the survivor’s uncle and father were taken into custody the moment she did report the crime.

The defences raised by Sengar were expressly rejected by the judge, who said the had failed “miserably” to prove his argument that the uncle of the survivor had orchestrated the whole case. He was also unable to prove that he was not at his residence at the time of the rape, as witnesses brought forward to do this were “interested and tainted witnesses”, and his movements were proved not to be in sync with the movement of his mobile SIM cards.

The defence’s attempt to attack the survivor’s character using a separate case filed by the survivor was also called out by the judge, who held that information from that case had been selectively leaked to try and cast a cloud over her testimony in this case. The judge held that there was no connection between the two cases.

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As Sengar was a public servant, the court convicted him under Section 5(c) of the POCSO Act, which deals with ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’ of a child by a public servant. Such offences are considered ‘aggravated’ as they involve the exploitation of a position of power or of a fiduciary relationship.

The judge made some pointed observations about the nature of the case, noting that it “epitomizes the fear ingrained in the mind of young girl in [the] countryside or elsewhere against reporting the issues of sexual assault by powerful adults.”

He also criticised the investigation of the case , which he held

“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.”

The judge had some strong words for the various authorities involved in this case from the start. He noted that the officials designated under the POCSO Act who were supposed to help victims were not sensitive.

He also pointed out that there had been serious violations of procedure and law in the conduct of the investigation, whether how a woman officer didn’t conduct the examination of the survivor as mandated under Section 24 of the POCSO Act, as well as the way the CBI kept calling her multiple times to their office.

Judge Sharma also pulled up the CBI for ignoring the intimidation the girl faced in the village, and questioned why the CBI took till January 2019 to file its chargesheet in the case, when the work needed for this had already been completed by July 2018.

The Trial Proceedings

The proceedings were conducted in-camera, ie, without any third-party observers, including the media, present. Judge Sharma had reserved his verdict after conclusion of 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 5 August after it was transferred to Delhi from a court in Lucknow on the Supreme Court’s direction.

The woman was allegedly kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor. The court has also framed charges against co-accused Shashi Singh in the case.

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Charges Against Sengar

Sengar, a four-time BJP MLA from UP's Bangermau, was expelled from the party in August, 2019.

The court had on 9 August 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 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

On 28 July this year, the woman who had accused Sengar was severely injured after the car in which she was travelling 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 3 April 2018. He died while in judicial custody a few days later, on 9 April.

The local court in Delhi has framed murder and other charges against the MLA, his brother Atul and nine others in the case.

The apex court, taking cognisance of the rape survivor's letter written to then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had on 1 August transferred all five cases registered in connection with the Unnao rape incident from a Lucknow court in Uttar Pradesh to the court in Delhi with directions to hold trial on a daily basis and completing it within 45 days.

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.

During the trial in the rape case which was held in-camera, thirteen prosecution witnesses and nine defence 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 in Delhi to record the statement of the rape survivor, who was admitted there after she was air-lifted from a hospital in Lucknow following the car crash.

The woman and her family has been provided CRPF security as per the apex court's orders. They have now been shifted to a rented accommodation in the national capital with the assistance of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).

(With inputs from PTI.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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