A Delhi court convicted expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar on Monday for raping a woman 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 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 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences 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 letter to the UP 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 chargesheet in the rape case and said it prolonged trial against Sengar and others.
The court pulled up the CBI for delay in filing the charge as also 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 also expressed displeasure over the agency leaking selectively the vital information relating to the statement of the survivor to put a cloud over her case.
The court said that “according to 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 the 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 the CBI itself was not following the manual relating to investigation and prosecution.
The woman was allegedly 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 UP’s Bangermau, 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 in the high profile case was held in-camera after the Supreme Court transferred the matter from UP to the national capital.