Unnao rape case: I had nightmares throughout the trial, says lawyer
Advocate Dharmendra Mishra, rape survivor's counsel, tells mid-day how analysis of technical, digital aspects helped get justice
On December 20, Special District Judge Dharmesh Sharma ruled that Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the expelled BJP MLA, will spend the "remainder of his biological life" in jail for raping a minor girl in Unnao in 2017. Shortly after, advocate Dharmendra Kumar Mishra conveyed the news to his client, the rape survivor, who was undergoing treatment at AIIMS, Delhi, for injuries sustained when a truck rammed into her vehicle on July 28 in Rae Bareli. "She told me 'aap jaise vakeel yadi honge toh desh ki betiyon ko zaroor nyay milega [The daughters of this nation will definitely get justice when there are lawyers like you]," recalls Mishra, while speaking with mid-day over the phone from the national capital on Sunday.
The 130-day trial began in August and was conducted on a day-to-day basis at Tis Hazari District Court in Delhi till December. "He [Sengar] will have to be in jail till his last breath ," said Mishra, who took up the case pro bono when it was shifted to Delhi after the death of her aunt and the aunt's sister in the July 28 accident. The woman's lawyer was also severely injured and is undergoing treatment in Delhi, and the survivor, now stable, is staying at a residence in Delhi provided to her on the orders of judge Sharma. "The CBI calls the death of the two women an 'accident' — but I say they were 'unnatural death' on road whose charge sheet has still not gone through the scrutiny of a court," said Mishra.
Speaking about the strong and expert team of defence lawyers hired by Sengar, Mishra said they had legal difficulties of their own. "There were some vital turning points in the case. The thing is truth and facts are not in the public domain, except for the operative part of the judgment. The rest is speculation. The true fact is the court's ruling that the survivor's testimony was unblemished and truthful in its entirety. The court's analysis of the technical and digital aspects of this case was one of the main turning points... It brought forth multiple facts, for example, the truth about Sengar's movements on June 4, 2017, when he raped the girl. Sengar had, in his defence, claimed he was not at the crime scene, which was proven otherwise. The seizure of a hard disk and mobile phones were important as well."
"In a POCSO case the onus is on the accused to prove his innocence after it is established that the victim is a minor. In this case, the court rejected all the grounds stated by the accused to prove his innocence." Sengar was punished under Sections 376 (2) (i) of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 5 and 6 of POCSO. Mishra said, "The case sends a message to the society that if a complainant fights on despite hurdles and suffering, the system will do the necessary in ensuring justice is delivered."
No. of days the trial in the rape case went on
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