New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred all five cases related to the Unnao rape incident from the Lucknow CBI court to a Delhi CBI court and ordered that the trial be completed within 45 days. It also directed the CBI to complete within seven days the probe on the case related to the ‘accident’ in Rae Bareli on Sunday, in which the rape survivor’s two aunts died, leaving her and her lawyer critically injured.
The apex court also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to pay Rs 25 lakh compensation to the teenaged survivor of the Unnao rape case, who is battling for her life after the ‘accident’ and directed that she be airlifted for treatment from Lucknow to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi if her family so wishes.
According to reports, King George’s Medical University, where the teenaged survivor is being treated, has told the Supreme Court that it had the wherewithal to handle the medical case of her and her lawyer, both of whom are critical. It also took note of oral instructions from doctors of the Luckow hospital that both the patients were in a condition to be air-lifted to Delhi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi made it clear that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) only seek extension of time for probe in the accident case in exceptional circumstances. It said that the name of the presiding judge for the trial of the cases will be decided after an in-chamber consultation.
The court also directed that the survivor, her mother and other members of the family be provided security by the CRPF and an officer of the level of commandant will file a compliance report forthwith.
The Unnao rape case has become a political hot potato for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh since the key accused, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, is a party MLA. Though he is lodged in jail at present, he is said to have tremendous political clout in Unnao and was recently visited in jail by BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj, who went there to thank him after winning the Lok Sabha elections held in May 2019.
After public outrage in Lucknow and Delhi by Opposition parties as well as civil society and women’s groups demanding expulsion of Sengar and fast-tracking of the probe, the party announced his expulsion on Thursday, according to news agency PTI.
The mother of the teenager who was raped had earlier alleged a ‘conspiracy’ to eliminate her family, pointing an accusing finger at Sengar. Following this, and the public outrage, a case of murder was registered against the BJP MLA.
The Unnao rape case of a minor girl by the politically influential Sengar and his associates has till now resulted in the death of the girl’s father under ‘mysterious’ circumstances, the jailing of her uncle, and now the death of her two aunts.
The case was filed by a woman belonging to Makhi police station area in Unnao who had alleged that Sengar, a four-time MLA who represents Bangermau in the UP Assembly, raped her teenage daughter at his residence in 2017.
The case had come to light after the victim allegedly attempted self-immolation outside Chief Minister Adityanath's residence.
Sengar, who is an accused in the rape case, was arrested on April 13, 2018.
However, the BJP was repeatedly confronted with questions about its “reluctance” to remove the lawmaker or take any strong action against him. The Opposition Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party lashed out at the BJP government in the state, accusing it of giving “patronage” to the accused.
In a tweet, BSP president Mayawati had said, "The meeting of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj with the rape-accused BJP MLA in jail proved that the raped accused are continuously getting the patronage of the ruling BJP...The Supreme Court needs to take cognizance of it."
The Unnao rape case has become a saga of police callousness, administrative neglect and the harassment of a young girl and her helpless family by a politician who seemed to enjoy leniency at every step. Despite sharp criticism, the ruling party acted only a year after his arrest for rape.
Earlier this week, the case returned to media glare after the road ‘accident’. While the BJP had claimed that Kuldeep Sengar had been suspended, it had refused to say when this step was taken.
Reacting to the expulsion of Sengar, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: "The BJP finally acknowledges having empowered a criminal and takes some action to correct itself and move in the direction of justice for a young woman who has suffered immeasurably."
Meanwhile, the court will hear the case again on Friday during which it will also hear a plea moved on behalf of Mahesh Singh, the survivor's uncle, who has been lodged in a jail in Rae Bareilly, to be shifted to a jail in the capital.
(with inputs from PTI)