A raging debate has engaged people from all walks of life after news broke of the encounter on Friday morning of all four accused in the brutal rape-and-murder case of a 25-year-old woman veterinarian last month in Hyderabad. The crime shook the conscience of the nation and many posed queries on the efficiency of the legal system especially in heinous crimes against women. Many politicians have expressed solidarity with people supporting extra-judicial killings in this case.
However, many rape cases have surfaced in recent times where the Supreme Court had to intervene to move the wheels of justice. Here is a look at these cases.
Muzaffarpur Shelter Home case:
Forty four girls, many of them minor, were sexually assaulted and tortured in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in a report brought the matter out in the public domain. The report was given to the Bihar government in May, 2018. Former Bihar People”s Party MLA Brajesh Thakur was named as the prime accused. In August, the Supreme Court took cognizance and transferred the probe to CBI. In February this year, the cases were transferred to a POCSO court at Saket district court in Delhi.
Last month, the apex court allowed seven girls, who were victims of alleged sexual assault at Muzaffarpur shelter home, to reunite with their families. In May last year the state government shifted the girls to other protection homes.
In September, the apex court allowed eight girls, out of 44, to be reunited with their families. After verification, only six of them were reunited. Koshish, a field project of TISS, informed the apex court that more girls have been identified for reuniting with their families.
The CBI is also probing the probability of murder after it recovered bundle of bones from a burial ground. The verdict in the case is likely on December 12, which involves 11 persons as accused including ex-Bihar Social Welfare Minister and the then JD(U) leader Manju Verma.
Unnao rape case:
In August 2019, the Supreme Court passed an unprecedented and comprehensive order in the five cases connected with the Unnao rape case victim. In July 2018, legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar was charged for a 2017 case of alleged kidnapping and rape of the then minor girl. The Supreme Court transferred the trial to a Delhi court with a direction to the CBI to complete the investigation within a stipulated time-frame.
The top court order also included – compensation to the victim, shifting of cases to Delhi, day-to-day trial to be completed in 45 days, security cover for the family members, best medical treatment in the country for the victim, CBI to complete investigation in the accident within a fortnight and possibility of shifting victim”s uncle to Delhi prison on the grounds of security. The victim and her lawyer were critically injured while two of her aunts were killed in the accident.
“The trial Judge to whom the cases have been earmarked, will commence the trial forthwith on a day-to-day basis and will ensure completion of trial of all the five cases within 45 days from commencement of the trial”, said the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The bench also awarded Rs 25 lakh as compensation to the victim. “We direct Uttar Pradesh government to pay an interim compensation to the mother of the victim by tomorrow”, said the top court.
The court initiated “in-camera” proceedings, to record her statement, in September at AIIMS, where she was admitted after the accident on July 28.
Kathua rape case:
In 2018, the rape and murder of an 8-year-old nomadic girl in a Kathua village in Jammu and Kashmir, led to a nationwide protest. Six people were convicted in the case. The Supreme Court had to intervene to shift the trial to Pathankot in Punjab after the lawyers in Kathua obstructed the filing of the charge sheet. An in-camera daily trial was held for a year.
Three main accused, in June this year, were sentenced to life imprisonment and the other three were sentenced to five-year jail term for destruction of evidence. According to the charge sheet, the accused conspired the abduction, rape and killing of the child to move out the nomadic minority community from the local area.
Nirbhaya rape case:
The Supreme Court in July 2018 dismissed the review pleas of three of the four convicts in the December 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case of a 23-year old paramedic student in Delhi.
The top court upheld their death penalty, awarded by trial court and upheld by the Delhi High Court, observing no grounds for the review.
Recently three convicts wrote to the jail authorities, insisting on the withdrawal of an October 29 notification, which granted them seven days to file mercy pleas with the President. The accused have exhausted all legal remedies, and the last resort is the mercy petition against capital punishment before the President. Ram Singh, one of the accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail. A juvenile, who was also an accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board, but he served a three-year term in reformation home and then he was released.