A Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) on Monday convicted a man, who was minor when he had gangraped a 24-year-old MBA student in 2009, and sent him to a reformation home for three years for rehabilitation, saying there was “unquestionably a ring of truth” in the prosecution version. It is pertinent to mention that a trial court had in February last year acquitted nine other adult accused in the case on the grounds that the identity of the real culprits could not be proved.
JJB presiding magistrate Arul Verma said the presence of the man, who was over 17 years of age at the time of the offence, at the scene of the occurrence has been established by overwhelming evidence and the witnesses have correctly identified him before the court.
The board, in its 100-page judgement, said the evidence of prosecution witnesses have been amply strengthened by medical and scientific evidence and recovery of incriminating articles from the juvenile.
The board, which sent the man, now 26, into protective custody in a reform home at Majnu Ka Tilla here for three years, allowed his plea to suspend the sentence for a month to enable him to file an appeal against the judgement.
The JJB also asked the Uttar Pradesh authorities to take steps to pay compensation of more than Rs three lakh to the victim.
It also ordered perjury proceedings against two defence witnesses for giving false testimony before it.
According to the prosecution, represented through Special Public Prosecutor Neelam Narang, the incident took place on the evening of January 5, 2009, when the woman along with her male friend, was returning from the Great India Place Mall in their car which was forcibly stopped by several youths who were returning on their motorcycles after a cricket match.
Brandishing cricket bats, four of these boys sat in the car and started beating the girl and her friend, pushed them to the back seat and drove the car to a secluded place near urban Noida village Garhi Chaukhandi, police had said.
At the isolated place, their other associates also joined and 11 persons allegedly gangraped the girl and took away their valuables like mobile phones, wrist watch and ATM cards, it had said. The complaint was lodged with the Noida Police by the victim’s friend. One of the accused died during the trial. The prosecution’s appeal against the trial court verdict is pending before the Delhi High Court.
Prosecutor Narang, who also heads the rape crisis cell of Delhi Commission for Women, welcomed today’s judgement and said justice has been done to the victim and evidence has been appreciated by the board. The board also acknowledged the spirit of the brave woman who remained undeterred and went through the excruciating motions of appearing before the courts. It noted that the case was shifted from UP to Delhi by the Supreme Court due to the threats meted out to her and the woman even had to leave the court.
The Board expressed disapproval over the UP government for not giving any compensation that was due to the victim till date and said the state seemed to have flagrantly violated the Supreme Court directions on the issue to enhance compensation.
“We are in the year 2018 and yet no enhancement of compensation has been made in the UP victim compensation scheme. Accordingly, a copy of this order be sent to the Principal Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of UP to take requisite steps to enhance the compensation amount in the victim compensation scheme of the state in consonance with the law,” it said and asked the state to forthwith disburse the amount of compensation due to her.
Currently, a meagre amount of Rs three lakh is being provided to rape victims under the UP victim compensation scheme.
While refusing to accept the man’s stand that he was somewhere else at the time of the offence, the JJB said there was unquestionably a ring of truth in the prosecution version and the evidence of prosecution witnesses have been amply strengthened by medical and scientific evidence and by recovery of incriminating articles from the juvenile.
It said the man has been found to be involved in the commission of offences of wrongful confinement, abduction, gangrape, dacoity with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt, dishonestly receiving stolen property and common intention.
The board said it was essential that appropriate psychological and psychiatric interventions be adopted as a reformation strategy for the juvenile. His social investigation report showed that criminal propensities developed in him because of bad company.
The board also referred to the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau on ‘crime in India, 2016’, according to which UP witnessed the maximum number of reporting or rape offence.