An American woman who was sexually assaulted while she was sleeping in her room in Delhi in June 2013 has decried the bail given to the man convicted of the crime and stated that she will move the High Court, or even the Supreme Court, to get justice.
In a video posted on Facebook on July 30, and shot in front of the Indian consulate in San Francisco, the woman alleged that she was notified that the man who broke into her apartment, “viciously attacked” her, and who she had to “fight to get (him) convicted”, has been granted bail.
The accused, Rajiv Panwar, was sentenced by a Delhi court to seven-year rigorous imprisonment in February this year in the case of digital rape of the US national in 2013.
Additional Sessions Judge, Special Fast Track Court, Harish Dhudani imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh and directed that the amount be paid to the victim. The court also considered aggravating circumstances such as the traumatic impact of the incident on the complainant’s marriage.
On July 5, Justice Chander Shekhar of Delhi High Court granted bail to Panwar. The court observed that in view of “discussions and circumstances, as well as the fact that the fine amount (imposed by trial court on him) has already been deposited, and that the disposal of appeal may take some time, the substantive sentence of the appellant is suspended during pendency of the appeal and the appellant be released, if not required in any other case, subject to furnishing a personal bond of Rs.25,000…”
In her video, the woman said, “Last month, I was notified that the man who viciously attacked me, who I had to fight to make sure he was convicted of his crime and sentenced in India, has been given bail on his appeal. This man broke into my apartment and attacked me. I fought, I went to India to testify — all by myself…. He was sentenced for (seven) years in prison and then on his appeal…(got bail)…”
She also alleged that she was not getting enough support from the Indian authorities.
She said, “I come here to the San Francisco consulate, where I need to have these forms notarised so that High Court knows who my attorney is…I am again denied service and assistance from the consulate in India; now (in) San Francisco, they tell me now that I need to go and get it notarised locally, then have to go to Sacramento [California] and get the notary verified…. a simple verification, like the one I received at the New York City at their consulate, I am being denied here in San Francisco..””
She ended the video by seeking help in her fight for justice: “…all my friends, I need your help…. We are going to take this to the Supreme Court, to the high court of India. You do not let convicted criminals off when victims were brave enough to go and testify. I need your help.”
The consulate’s response said: “Our deepest sympathies and our support are with you. As you know, all attestations were provided the same day (Tuesday) after you spoke to the Consulate officials and we waived the requirements of the Hague Convention that requires apostilling (attestation in which documents are legalised in a particular format that is acceptable in all nations) of legal documents. We hope you obtain the justice you seek and deserve at the earliest.”
(With inputs from Pritam Pal Singh)