October 8 was both a happy and a sad day for Rohit Kumar. After five years,a city court acquitted him of charges of kidnapping and rape. At the same time,the court held him guilty of delaying his own acquittal by not appearing in court. On Tuesday,Rohit was sentenced to three years imprisonment for the offence.
In 2009,charges of kidnapping and rape were levelled against Rohit after police rescued a 16-year-old girl from his sisters jhuggi in Kirti Nagar. Based on the medical examination of the girl,charges of raping a minor were framed against him. The chief evidence against Rohit were the words of the girl who worked with him at a factory manufacturing suitcase hinges in Uttam Nagar.
According to her statement before the court,Rohit and his friend had told her a false story,gagged her and then taken her forcibly to several jhuggis. She told the court that she had been raped in the jhuggi.
However,the court found numerous inconsistencies in her statement. One of the inconsistencies was that she stayed with Rohit for a month at his sisters jhuggi and travelled with him but did not run away even though she had the scope to do so. The girl in her earlier statements had also cleared Rohit of all charges.
Looking closely into her statements,the court held: The prosecutrix was staying with the accused willingly and she was a consenting party to the sexual intercourse with him.
Unfortunately for Rohit,the court did not take a favourable view towards him being absent from the court proceedings. He had stopped appearing in court after September 2012. Though non-bailable warrants were issued and process was served upon him,he could not be traced. The court accordingly declared him a proclaimed offender on July 15.
He was later apprehended by police on July 21 from his village. Rohit argued that he had been misinformed by his earlier counsel who allegedly told him that he was not required to be present in court since the case would be decided in his favour.
It is very difficult to accept that a counsel would advise an accused in a criminal case to stop appearing in court when the trial is still in progress… his mother who stood surety for him did not appear before the court, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat held,dismissing Rohits arguments.
The convict deliberately stopped appearing in court to thwart the trial of the case… the offence against the accused was a serious one… and his conduct of absconding and evading his arrest for a period of about one year has to be viewed seriously. The convict does not deserve a lenient view, Judge Bhat held,sentencing Rohit to a three-year term of rigorous imprisonment.