Helpless in Unnao -Prakash Singh
-The Indian Express
State institutions have been complicit in denying justice to the victim.
The criminal justice system of the country is “virtually collapsing” and “as it is slow, inefficient and ineffective, people are losing confidence in the system”. This was stated by the Justice Malimath Committee (2000-2003), which had been constituted to recommend reforms in the criminal justice system. Thanks to certain lobbies, the salient recommendations of the Committee were never implemented. Meanwhile, the system continues to go down a slippery slope.
There could be no greater indictment of the system than the fact that the Supreme Court had to intervene in a case of alleged rape to ensure that justice was done to the victim. Under normal circumstances, it should have been possible for the matter to be disposed in a satisfactory manner at the thana level. However, there was complete failure at all levels of administration, particularly in the police.
The facts about the Unnao case are as follows. A minor girl is gang-raped, allegedly by an MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, his brother and accomplices, on June 17, 2017. The police register a case of kidnapping, but the MLA is not named in the FIR. On April 3, 2018, her father is brutally assaulted, allegedly by Sengar’s men, for refusing to withdraw the complaint. The police, in a bizarre twist to the case, arrest the her father for alleged illegal possession of firearms. She attempts to immolate herself outside the chief minister’s residence on April 8, 2018. The very next day, her father dies in judicial custody. There is widespread outrage. On April 12, three days after her father had succumbed to the injuries, four days after her attempted suicide and more than nine months after the gruesome incident, a case of rape is finally registered against the MLA under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The MLA is not arrested even at this stage, and the case is handed over to the CBI.
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