Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said that the trial in the Unnao rape case had not yet been completed despite an initial 45-day deadline given by the Supreme Court in August. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and a former Bharatiya Janata Party leader, is the main accused in the case.
“It has been 80 days now and the trial has not been completed,” Vadra tweeted. “Uttar Pradesh is at the top in crimes against women. Cases are not even filed against the culprits. And if the case is about an influential BJP MLA, then first the FIR is delayed, then the arrest is delayed, and now the trial is pending.”
On August 1, a Supreme Court bench led by then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had transferred all five cases related to the Unnao rape complainant to a court in Delhi. The trial court was asked to hear cases on a daily basis and complete proceedings within 45 days of starting trial. However, the CBI kept asking the trial court for extensions. On September 6, the Supreme Court said there was no pressure on trial court judge Dharmesh Sharma to complete the trial in 45 days, and allowed him to seek an extension if he needs one.
The trial court began hearing final arguments in the rape case on Monday. The court has recorded the statements of 13 prosecution witnesses and nine defence witnesses, PTI reported.
The five cases
Sengar, the MLA from Bangermau in Unnao, was arrested on April 13, 2018, after a teenager accused him of raping her in June 2017 when she had gone to his home to ask for a job. Four days before his arrest, the complainant’s father had died of severe injuries in judicial custody. He had been booked under the Arms Act, which was later found to be false.
In July this year, the complainant, who was 19 years old by now, was injured along with her lawyer, while two of her aunts were killed, when a truck crashed into their car in Rae Bareli district. Sengar was suspected of plotting the collision. The matter reached the Supreme Court because two weeks before the incident, the complainant had written to then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, saying that some of Sengar’s aides had threatened her family. The car crash had already taken place by the time the letter was delivered to Gogoi. The top court intervened in the matter after this. In its order on August 1, the court also ordered the CBI to complete its inquiry into the car crash within two weeks.
Meanwhile, the injured complainant was airlifted from a hospital in Lucknow to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi for better treatment. She was discharged from the hospital after seven weeks, on September 25.
The CBI got three extensions from the top court to complete its inquiry into the car crash, and filed a chargesheet on October 11, dropping the murder charge against Sengar and his aides, though it retained the criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation charges. The driver of the truck that hit the woman’s car was charged under relevant sections for causing death by negligence.
On October 3, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in the gangrape case. The three accused in the case allegedly kidnapped and gangraped the complainant a week after she was first allegedly raped by Sengar. One of the accused is the son of the man who had allegedly lured the woman to Sengar’s home on June 4, 2017.
The five cases were: the rape case, the gangrape, the Arms Act against the woman’s father, which was found to be fake, the death of her father in police custody, and the car crash.
In September, Shashi Singh, an accused in all five cases, moved the Supreme Court to seek an extension of the deadline for the trial. He said the deadline was irrational and prejudicial to the rights of the accused for a fair and transparent trial.