#UnnaoCase: Thank god for the Allahabad High Court

#UnnaoCase: Thank god for the Allahabad High Court

Little has changed in Uttar Pradesh since the Gayatri Prajapati rape case.

By Srawan Shukla

Published on :

The judicial intervention in the Unnao case has once again exposed the political-criminal nexus in Uttar Pradesh. Under pressure from the Allahabad High Court, the Prime Minister’s Office cleared the Yogi Adityanath government’s recommendation for the case to be handed to the Central Bureau of Investigation in record time on Thursday night. It also directed the investigating agency to pick up the accused Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly Kuldeep Singh Sengar before the High Court passes its order on the public interest litigation in Unnao rape and murder case. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s midnight candle march also forced the Modi government to take a proactive step.

The Yogi Adityanath government’s zero-tolerance policy on crimes against women was blown to smithereens when the accused BJP MLA’s arrest was withheld even after the registration of a first information report under Sections 363, 366, 376, 506 of the Indian Penal Code and 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Never in history has the PMO and the DoPT acted so pro-actively on a CBI recommendation by any state government. Within hours, all necessary formalities were completed late Thursday night to give a go-ahead to the CBI. The investigating agency too acted swiftly and lodged three FIRs and picked up the accused MLA at 4.12 am on Friday morning.

Ironically, this is the same PMO, DoPT and the CBI that had refused to take up a few recommendations of the Yogi Adityanath government to probe corruption cases of the previous Akhilesh Yadav regime in the last one year. Not much headway has been made by the CBI in the case of the mysterious death of a 2007 batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer Anurag Tiwari in Lucknow even after 10 months of the probe.

Thanks to the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice DB Bhosale and senior lawyer Gopal S Chaturvedi, justice is likely to be delivered to the gang-rape victim and the accused who thrashed her father to death will be brought to book.

Taking suo moto cognisance of a letter submitted by senior lawyer GS Chaturvedi in the open court on Wednesday, Justice DB Bhosale admitted it as a PIL and directed the State Advocate General Raghvendra Singh to file details and ‘action taken’ report in the court on Thursday.

During the course of arguments on Thursday, the two-member bench comprising Chief Justice DB Bhosale and Justice Suneet Kumar made strong observations on replies filed by the AG. “Why has the accused MLA not been arrested,” the bench asked thrice in the court. The bench did not approve of AG’s argument that the SIT has no adequate evidence to arrest the accused MLA. At one point, the Chief Justice sought to know from the AG if he was representing the accused?

The bench reserved its order for Friday. But Thursday’s arguments had made it clear to the state and Central governments that the court will pass an order for the immediate arrest of the accused BJP MLA much to their embarrassment.

Left with no choice, the CBI was swung into action Thursday night itself. Three FIRs were registered and the accused MLA was detained for questioning. The news was flashed in the WhatsApp group of those covering CBI at 6 am. Sengar was grilled by a team of seven sleuths for 13 hours at the CBI headquarters in Lucknow.

Another team was sent to Unnao. Six policemen posted in Safipur and Makhi Police Stations were questioned and arrested. The team also met the gang-rape victim and family members. In its 20-page order, the Chief Justice directed the investigating agency not to detain but arrest the BJP MLA and others in case no 0096 registered on April 12 and carry out the investigation under the provisions of the CrPC.

The court also directed the CBI to reopen other cases lodged earlier against the accused and, if necessary, move an application for the cancellation of bail of the three accused who were charged with gang-rape. The court made it clear that the CBI investigation will be watched and directed it to file a status report on May 2 to the court.

The rape victim and her family have hailed the Allahabad High Court order and demanded capital punishment for the accused BJP MLA and others.

The criminal antecedents of the accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brother Atul Singh are out. But not many know that the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had arrested two terrorists from his farmhouse nearly a year ago. But the case was brushed under the carpet following pressure from the Thakur lobby MLAs, led by Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya.

There are striking similarities between Sengar and the former Samajwadi Party Cabinet minister Gayatri Prajapati case. He was also accused of gang-rape and Akhilesh Yadav had tried to shield him. But the Supreme Court had intervened and directed to a lodge case against him. He was arrested during the Akhilesh regime, just four days before he relinquished office for the BJP incumbent.

The Yogi Adityanath government had constituted a four-member SIT and directed it to file a charge sheet against seven accused, including Gayatri Prajapati. The ex-SP minister had obtained a bail from the POCSO Court after allegedly paying a bribe of Rs 10 crore. But his bail was rejected following the intervention of the Allahabad High Court, which suspended the judge and had ordered a probe into bribery charges. All the accused, including Gayatri, are still languishing in jail.

Inaction by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Sengar’s case caused irreparable damage to his personal image and the party. No woman is safe in Uttar Pradesh if the head of the government is out to shield rape accused, just because he belongs to the governing class. Anti-Romeo squad, encounter-spree and raising an all women battalion to protect women are just an eyewash before public eyes now, Mr Yogi.