The Delhi court trying the Unnao rape case this week disposed of an application for prosecuting doctors who examined the teenage survivor’s father after he was allegedly assaulted by Uttar Pradesh legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the main accused in the case who has since been suspended by his party, the BJP, and his brother in April 2018.
The application, filed by the survivor’s mother through her counsel Dharmendra Mishra, sought to reveal “very crucial facts” about the ongoing investigation into her husband’s death and went on to accuse doctors at the Unnao District Hospital of destroying and fabricating records at Sengar’s behest.
Though the judge Dharmesh Sharma disposed of the plea as it wasn’t supported by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the inquiry, he warned that if “evidence comes about of any role played by any of the doctors in the entire episode” during the trial, he would invoke Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code which lays down that if evidence emerges that a person other than the accused has committed an offence for which they could be tried together with the accused, “the court may proceed against such a person”.
The Unnao rape case is being tried at the Tis Hazari Court and at a makeshift court set up in the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. The case stems from the alleged rape of a then 17-year-old girl by Sengar. After the girl’s family complained to the police, the legislator and his brother allegedly assaulted her father, and had the police detain him. He died in custody on April 9, 2018.
In July this year, the rape survivor and her lawyer were seriously injured and two of her family members were killed when a truck with blackened licence plates hit their car.
Newslaundry accessed a copy of the application. Here is a summary of what it claims:
– The Unnao District Hospital doctors “wilfully and illegally” didn’t perform the medical procedures required to save the survivor’s father because they had “conspired with the accused” and were “active participants” in his death.
– In order to help the accused persons, the doctors “deceived and misinterpreted the law” to ensure that the survivor’s father wasn’t treated properly in hospital and sent to judicial custody instead. They even manipulated and falsified hospital records. “These acts of the doctors are not negligent acts but illegal acts to achieve the illegal objective of not providing proper treatment” to the survivor’s father.”
– The investigators “deliberately” did not investigate this aspect of the case to save Sengar as well as the doctors.
The survivor’s mother urged the court to take cognizance of these “facts” and initiate criminal proceedings against the doctors.
Accused fined ₹25,000
The court, meanwhile, examined one of the witnesses, a doctor who helped conduct the postmortem of the survivor’s father in 2018.
The counsel for Atul Singh, Sengar’s brother, asked for some more time to prepare for cross-examining the witness, but the court said there was “no substance in the plea” as “they have already been supplied the statement of this witness…besides postmortem report along with final chargesheet”.
The court adjourned the doctor’s cross-examination until Monday, but not before imposing a combined fine of ₹25,000 on the 11 accused persons in the case. The entire amount will have to be paid by Atul Singh if his fellow accused do not. The money will go towards paying for the witness’s airfare, conveyance and accommodation.
The judge directed that “no attempt shall be made by any of the family members or relatives of the accused persons” to approach the witness until the next hearing.
In another order, the Tis Hazari court noted that the investigating officer had indicated that there was a threat to the lives of the survivor and her family members. It then directed the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh to inform the court what possible measures could be taken to relocate the survivor, her mother, brother, and two young sisters to a safe place.