New Delhi: The Unnao rape survivor and her family approached the CBI last month and sought transfer of the trial to Delhi, mentioning that they feared being attacked by the aides of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, ThePrint has learnt.
The survivor, who had accused the MLA of rape in April 2018, was in a deadly car accident Sunday evening, which killed two of her aunts. The woman and her lawyer are said to be critically injured. The car, police said, was hit head-on by an over-speeding truck coming from the wrong side.
According to a source in the security establishment, the CBI had explained to the family that shifting the trial was a judicial process and not within its jurisdiction.
“The survivor and her family have been given sufficient security, with seven personnel stationed at her residence and three attached to her at all times,” the source quoted above said. “The family did not approach CBI for more protection but was not comfortable with the trial in UP.”
The case is being investigated by the CBI’s Lucknow unit, which is being assisted by the Special Crime Unit. Since the survivor is a prime witness in the CBI case, the agency has now sought information regarding the accident from the UP Police.
The case so far
The CBI took over the investigation in the case in April 2018 and filed four separate FIRs.
While one was a case of rape of a minor based on the survivor’s complaint, another was on the assault and death of her father in police custody. A third case was filed on a cross-complaint by the MLA’s brother alleging assault by the rape survivor’s relatives.
The fourth case relates to her being allegedly gang-raped by three men, including the son of Sengar’s associate, Shashi Singh. The Allahabad HC had recommended that the case be investigated by the CBI.
The chargesheets have been filed in the first two cases.
In the chargesheet of the rape case, filed on 11 July 2018, the CBI has accused the MLA and a woman of sexual assault of a minor. They have also been booked under criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, criminal intimidation and sections of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences).
In the second case, regarding the custodial death of the survivor’s father, a chargesheet has been filed against five people. While the MLA’s name has not been included in the second chargesheet, his brother Atul Singh Sengar has been named. The CBI is, however, investigating the role of the MLA and police officials in the case.
The survivor’s family had accused the two former superintendents of police of Unnao, Neha Pandey and Pushpanjali Devi, of helping the BJP MLA and his aides in the killing her father.
If the survivor dies, the case will ‘fall flat’
According to advocate Vijay Aggarwal, a criminal lawyer, if the victim dies, the case will “fall flat” in the court.
The survivor’s statement was recorded by a judicial magistrate under section 164 CrPC and also by the CBI, but according to Aggarwal, the said statement is just “corroborative and cannot be used as evidence”.
“The statement before the magistrate is very important. However, it cannot be treated as substantive evidence unless it is a dying declaration,” Aggarwal said. “In case the victim is unable to survive, the case will not stand in court and will just fall flat. The accused will be discharged.”
Advocate Tarannum Cheema, another criminal lawyer, also explained that the statement before the magistrate cannot be treated as evidence.
“In the case of Nirbhaya, the death was the consequence of rape,” she said. “In this case, however, these are two separate incidents and that too with a considerable time gap. In this scenario, if the rape survivor is unable to pull through the case will not stand in court.
“Unless a link is established and is proven that her death was a conspiracy by the accused, it will be difficult to present a strong case in the court in the rape survivor’s absence,” she added.
In the rape case against Sengar, the CBI’s chargesheet has been filed on the basis of the survivor’s testimony. Although in jail, he still remains a BJP MLA.