Supreme Court orders transfer of Unnao cases to Delhi CBI court

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Supreme Court orders ₹25 lakh interim compensation and CRPF protection to the rape survivor; seeks full details from CBI on Unnao rape, Rae Bareli accident cases

The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred five cases of crimes committed against the Unnao rape survivor and her family from a CBI court in Lucknow to its counterpart in Delhi and ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to pay her ₹25 lakh as interim compensation.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi ordered the trial in the Unnao cases to be held on a day-to-day basis and completed within 45 days. The court even the extra mile of zeroing in on the trial judge.

Four of these cases include the rape of the minor on June 4, 2017; a false case hoisted against her father under the Arms Act by conniving police officers; the custodial death of her father, who was beaten up before being taken into custody; and a second instance of gang rape of the survivor within a week of the first one on June 11, 2017. Though the CBI has filed charge sheets in the four cases, the Lucknow court is yet to frame charges against the accused persons.

The fifth one concerns the “accident” on July 28 when a speeding truck rammed into a car carrying the now 19-year-old rape survivor.

Letter seeks help

Days before the accident, she had reached out to the CJI in a letter. But her cry for help largely remained unnoticed in the court's Registry for almost a fortnight.

Her letter, dated July 12, had spelt out threats to her life and her family from the accused persons, which included Kuldeep Singh Sengar, four-time BJP MLA from Bangermau. The letter landed at the court Registry on July 17, but did not reach the CJI’s table till July 30 – well after the accident on Sunday.

The ‘accident’ killed two of her aunts accompanying her in the car and left her and her lawyer critically injured. The victim is on ventilator at King George’s Medical College and Hospital in Lucknow. The CBI is investigating suspicions of foul play.

Supreme Court orders transfer of Unnao cases to Delhi CBI court

Directive to CBI in ‘accident’ case

The court ordered the CBI to complete its probe into the ‘accident’ case in the next seven days. As an exception, it said, the CBI could take another week. But under no circumstance should the probe extend beyond a fortnight.

The CBI, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, initially sought a month’s time to complete the probe.

“A month? You have seven days… you do what you have to do within that time,” Chief Justice Gogoi retorted.

The court also ordered protection for the girl and her family by personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on the urging of its amicus curiae, V. Giri.

Mr. Giri said the girl was in the hospital with just her mother to attend her. The family was not financially well off. The State should pay her an “exemplary” compensation.

But the Uttar Pradesh government initially protested that it would pay a compensation only “as per statute”.

“What is happening in this country? You want the Supreme Court to follow statutes to order compensation?” the CJI said. The court finally fixed Rs. 25 lakh as the interim compensation.

‘Give full details of cases’

The morning’s hearing saw the court insist on getting a complete low-down on the Unnao cases and the status of the CBI probe into them.

Further, the court directed Mr. Mehta to have a team of doctors check the medical condition of the victim and her lawyer to see if they can be airlifted to Delhi for advanced treatment. At 2 p.m., Mr. Mehta informed the court that both were medically fit to be shifted from the Lucknow hospital. The court said it would pass the necessary orders whenever their families gave their consent to shifting both to Delhi.

In a separate order, the CJI Bench directed Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar, Secretary General of the court, to conduct an enquiry within seven days into whether any lapse or negligence on the part of Registry officials caused the Unnao victim's letter to reach the CJI late. The CJI will nominate a sitting judge to supervise the Secretary General’s enquiry.

Mr. Kalgaonkar explained that the Registry received 6,900 plus letters in July. The Registry officials only put two and two together after they came to know of Sunday's accident. They had then quickly forwarded the letter to the CJI's desk.

Thursday’s first hearing began with the CJI asking Mr. Mehta to have a responsible officer of the CBI present in the court by noon with the entire case detail in hand.

The CJI was not swayed when Mr. Mehta asked the court to reschedule the case for Friday. “Tomorrow is another day, Mr. Solicitor. We want this to happen today,” he responded.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2020 12:24:06 PM |

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