The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred five cases related to the Unnao rape complainant to a competent court in Delhi, Bar and Bench reported.
The trial court will hear cases on a daily basis and complete proceedings within 45 days. Before lunch, the court had ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to complete its inquiry into car crash involving the complainant within a week, according to Live Law. “As an exception, CBI can take another week, but under no circumstance shall the probe extend beyond a fortnight,” The Hindu quoted the court as saying in its final order.
The 19-year-old complainant, her lawyer and two aunts were in a car when a truck crashed into their vehicle on Sunday in Rae Bareli district. The complainant’s aunts died while she and her lawyer are on ventilator support at a hospital in Lucknow. State legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who is accused of raping the complainant, is suspected of plotting the collision. Sengar is in Sitapur district jail at present in connection with the rape case.
The court asked the counsel representing the complainant to take her family’s opinion on shifting her to a hospital in Delhi. Amicus Curiae V Giri was told to take a similar opinion from the family of the teenager’s lawyer.
The top court also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to give Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to the teenager, and ordered the Central Reserve Police Force to provide security to the complainant and her family, PTI reported. “We also direct security and protection to the victim, her lawyer, mother of the victim, the four siblings of the victim, her uncle, and immediate family members in the village in Unnao,” ANI quoted Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as saying.
At the start of proceedings in the morning, the top court sought the presence of a CBI officer within an hour to apprise it of the status of the ongoing inquiry into the rape and related cases. The court rejected Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s argument that it was too short a notice to get officers to Delhi for the purpose. At noon, CBI Joint Director Sampat Meena appeared in the court.
Mehta informed the court that four other cases linked to the complainant were being investigated by the CBI, which was asked to take over the inquiry on July 30. The first case is related to the investigation into the rape, for which a chargesheet has been filed. The second case is in connection with the gangrape of the teenager and her mother a week after the first sexual assault. The third case was filed under the Arms Act against the woman’s father. It was found to be fake, Mehta said. The fourth case was filed after the complainant’s father died in police custody. It was registered on the basis of a complaint by the woman’s mother.
When Mehta said the CBI needed a month to investigate the car crash, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it must be done within seven days, ANI reported.
V Giri told the court that the incident was extremely disturbing and some exemplary compensation should be given to the complainant and her family, Live Law reported. “What’s happening in this country?” the court asked at one point. “Things are not happening within four corners of law.”
While the hearing was on, reports said the BJP had expelled Sengar, who was also booked for murder after the car accident on Sunday. He represents Bangermau constituency of Unnao in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, and has been in prison since April 2018.
Complainant’s letter to the chief justice
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s secretary general told the court that the delay in placing the complainant’s letter before the chief justice was not deliberate. The secretary general said the letter, sent two weeks before her accident, was one among thousands of letter petitions the court receives every month, and was being processed according to guidelines, Bar and Bench reported. When the media reported about the letter, it was traced and placed before Gogoi on Tuesday.
News reports on Tuesday said that the complainant had written a letter to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on July 12 saying that some of the aides of the accused MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar had threatened her family. The letter was sent two weeks before the woman was in a car crash that killed two of her aunts and injured her and her lawyer critically.
In her letter, the woman had also sought directions for registration of a case against those who had intimidated her family, The Indian Express reported. The complainant had reportedly sent the letter to the Allahabad High Court and authorities of the Uttar Pradesh government as well.
On Wednesday, Gogoi had expressed displeasure over not being shown the letter, and sought a report from the Supreme Court’s secretary general on why the letter was not placed before him. “Unfortunately, the letter is yet to see the light of the day and yet the newspapers flashed it as if I have read the letter,” he had said.
The court had also asked authorities in Uttar Pradesh to file a status report by Thursday on the car crash.