The Unnao rape survivor is undergoing treatment at AIIMS after being seriously injured in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh.
On the special judge’s request, the Supreme Court bench also told the Delhi High Court to hold a special court at AIIMS trauma centre in Delhi, so the survivor could depose from the hospital where she is currently recuperating after being seriously injured in a road accident.
The HC issued a notification under Section 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code to designate the trauma centre as a venue for temporary court. It said that special judge Dharmesh Sharma, who is conducting the trial of the Unnao case, will record her testimony.
This would enable the special judge to hold proceedings in a makeshift courtroom at the trauma centre of AIIMS to ensure that the survivor is able to depose freely and her testimony is recorded.
The SC told the HC to take this decision following the letter by Sharma in which he had said that “bringing the survivor to the courtroom on a stretcher might entail grave risk to her identity, privacy and security.” The Judge also suggested that during the proceedings the accused will be connected via video-conferencing. This was also done after the statement of the doctors which said that it was “not advisable” to bring her to court premises.
The Supreme Court bench, comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, extended the time for the CBI by two more weeks to complete the probe in the accident case which involved Unnao Rape Survivor, her lawyer, and two of her relatives. The bench also granted extra time to the special judge of Delhi High Court judge to complete the trial and directed him to take a decision at the earliest.
The Unnao case refers to the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl on 4 June 2017. Two separate charge sheets have been filed in the case so far. The first charge sheet was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 11 July 2018, naming Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a former BJP leader and MLA from the state of Uttar Pradesh, as an accused in the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl. On 13 July 2019, another charge sheet was filed which named Kuldeep Singh Sengar, his brother, three policemen and five other people for allegedly framing the father of the Unnao rape survivor.
On 28 July, 2019, following a truck collision in which the rape victim was seriously injured and two family members killed, it was revealed that the family had been threatened, and had even written to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the current Chief Justice of India for help. On 31 July 2019, Chief Justice Gogoi and the Supreme Court of India acknowledged the case.
The incident made headlines in India in April 2018, when joint protests were held across India demanding justice for both victims. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, issued a statement condemning the incidents. Following the truck collision on 28 July 2019, there were protests once again, including protests by the opposition in the Parliament on 30 July 2019.
Supreme Court Intervention:
The Supreme Court of India had taken up the letter written by the Unnao case victim to CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The letter, which was written by the victim and her family members, claimed that they were being threatened by followers of accused expelled BJP MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar. The issue was brought up during the mentioning by Senior Advocate V. Giri, who is Amicus Curiae in the case relating to rape.
The Chief Justice of India was anguished with the events and in view of the situation, the CJI led bench of the Supreme Court ordered the transfer of a total of 5 cases related to the Unnao incident to Delhi in the court of the District & Sessions Judge, West District, Tis Hazari Court and also directed protection to the victim’s family members, her lawyer and his family members. The victim was awarded Rs. 25 Lakhs as interim compensation to be paid by the Uttar Pradesh Government.
On August 2, 2019, the bench also directed that the Uncle of the rape victim, Mahesh Singh, who is said to be a key witness in the case, be transferred from the Raebareli Jail, where he is currently imprisoned, to the Tihar Jail in Delhi.
This article is authored by Aayush Jain, student of Bachelor of Legal Science & Bachelor of Law ( B.L.S. LL.B) at Government Law College, Mumbai.
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