Memorandum to Chief Justice of Bombay High Court – Complaint of rape against Dr Rustom Soonawalla #Rape #Vaw


6th June 2013

To

The Chief Justice,

High Court,

Bombay

Reference: Concerns of women’s groups regarding the manner in which the complaint against Dr. Rustom Sonawala is dealt with. (Anticipatory Bail Application No. 578 of 2013)

Sir,

We, the members of women’s groups, organisations and individuals are concerned about developments in the complaint of rape filed against Dr. Rustom Sonawala at Khar Police Station on 17.05.2013.

We have been fighting for the rights of victims in cases of sexual assault in Mumbai and various parts of the country for many decades. In view of the increasing number of cases of sexual assault and brutal rapes, laws regarding rape and sexual assault have been recently amended to bring in stringent punishments. After the Justice Verma Committee report and the recent happenings in the country, we felt that the Courts too were taking the issue of violence against women more seriously and sensitively.

 

Background: A 26 year old woman, who was taking treatment from Dr. Rustom Sonawala since August 2012, filed a complaint of rape against him on the evening of 17th May, 2013. The filing of the first information report as well as the medical examination of the complainant was concluded by 7 am of the 18th of May.

After the complainant and her husband returned home on the same day, 18th May, the police called them to Dadar to identify the doctor, as they had located his whereabouts in Parsi colony.  On locating and identifying the accused doctor, the two police personnel accompanied him in his car, asking the complainant to take a taxi. While the complainant as well as the police personnel reached the Khar police station, the accused Doctor managed to abscond while he was being accompanied by the police.

During protests that were being held against the doctor opposite his clinic, one of the neighbours informed some of the protestors, that the same doctor had also molested their daughter in the past.

This has raises several questions:

1.       Why did the police go to arrest the doctor in a taxi for which the complainant was made to pay and not in a police van?

2.       Why has no action been taken against the concerned police personnel and why have they not been suspended?

3.       Given the complicity of the entire machinery with the accused, how do we ensure a fair trial?

4.       How do we ensure that even the forensic and medical reports are not tampered with?

Further, the accused who had not been arrested and was absconding even after 10 days of the crime, on 29th May, 2013, moved the High Court seeking anticipatory bail, even as his application for anticipatory bail was pending before the Sessions Court at Greater Bombay, Mumbai. In the anticipatory bail application, the accused said through his lawyer that his blood and semen sample may be collected and he be given protection from arrest till the anticipatory bail application is finally decided in the Sessions Court. The victim’s advocate argued that the accused was absconding and in his absence no reliefs should be granted to him.
On 29th May, 2013 the Hon’ble Court passed an order directing the accused to deposit his passport and appear before the Khar Police Station. The Assistant Public Prosecutor was asked whether the court should pass an order of not arresting the accused or she would give an undertaking. The Assistant Public Prosecutor said that she would give an undertaking of not arresting the accused till his anticipatory bail was decided by the Hon’ble Sessions Court. The court asked by when they would do the medical examination and the Assistant Public Prosecutor said that there is no provision in law by which this medical examination can be done prior to arrest.  After her refusal to agree to do the medical test the court said it will hear the matter after vacation, that is, on 11th June, 2013 and till then the accused is protected, as the Assistant Public Prosecutor has given an undertaking regarding the same.

Sec. 54  of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows medical examination of the accused at the instance of the accused, if the examination of his body will afford evidence which will disprove commission by him of any offence or which will establish the commission by any other person of any offence against his body.

But the section is very clear that it is after arrest and that the accused will have to make an application to the Magistrate.

We fear that the Order of the Hon’ble High Court sets a wrong and dangerous precedent in terms of rape matters for many reasons.

The Accused was not present before the court and yet he was granted relief, which is never done, especially in rape matters. The medical evidence of semen, blood, injuries cannot be the sole basis of deciding whether rape was committed.  At present the law defines rape by penetration, [that is, penetration is enough to prove rape,]; nowhere does it say that it has to be coupled with the presence of DNA.

The FIR states that there was penetration; the presence of DNA and other factors is corroborative evidence.

If this order becomes final it not only  means that the rape accused can approach the courts to seek this kind of protection, but it will also mean that cases will be closed on the basis of DNA reports. And given the circumstances related above, one cannot be sure that these reports cannot not doctored or tampered with. DNA test can be evaluated during trial.

This also takes us to the conclusion that if traces of semen are not found, there is no rape. This goes counter to the recent Criminal Amendment Act, 2013.

The current situation also gives the accused the freedom to tamper with the evidence and witnesses considering the fact he was able to connive with police and abscond right in their presence.

The Hon’ble Court before giving relief to the Doctor ought to have considered the fact that the Doctor is a fugitive from Justice.

In fact he has obstructed the legal system by conniving with police personnel. It is obvious that in some way he was able to exercise undue influence on the police and thereby he could go absconding right in presence of the policemen.

The Hon’ble Court instead of granting him relief should have instructed him to first submit himself before the investigating team and also should have directed that a complaint be registered against the Doctor as well as the police for subverting the process by using undue influence.

It is indeed a question before all us citizens and women specifically, whether Justice is the prerogative of rich people only.

It is a worrying thought that this sort of judgment will act as a precedent in future cases. This goes counter to the present ethos after the 16th December 2012 rape case and its aftermath.
We hope you will relook at the judgment and do the needful.

Yours sincerely

Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

Aawaaz-E-Niswan

Akshara

SAKHYA (women’s guidance cell)

Women Research and Action Group (WRAG)

SNEHA

VACHA

CORO (for literacy)

YUVA

Samajwadi Mahila Sabha

Stree Mukti Sanghatana

Anagha Sarpotdar

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Address: 29, Bhatia Bhuvan, Babrekar Marg, Off Gokhale Road, Dadar (West), Bombay – 400 028

Email: faowindia@yahoo.co.in

cc- Home Minister R R Patil

 

Sole convict in Suryanelli rape case retracts charge against PJ Kurien #WTFnews Timing ?


PTI  THODUPUZHA, KERALA, MAY 29, 2013 | UPDATED 18:18 IST
PJ Kurien
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien
In yet another twist to the nearly two-decade-oldSuryanelli sex scandal, the lone convict in the case, Dharmarajan on Wednesday retracted his allegation that Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien was involved in the case.In an affidavit filed through his lawyer in the Sessions Court at Thodupuzha in Idukki district, Dharmarajan said he made the allegation as the reporter of a Malayalam TV channel barraged him with questions while he was hiding in a place near Mysore after jumping bail.

Dharmarajan, who surrendered in February last after absconding for several years, said he was not familiar with Kurien and he had seen his pictures only in media.

Withdrawing his claim that he had taken Kurien in his car to a guest house in Kumali where the victim was lodged, Dharmarajan said in fact he did not even have a car of his own.

The affidavit was submitted in a private petition filed by the victim seeking legal action against Kurien in the light of Dharmarajan’s “revelation.”

Dharmarajan dropped a bombshell in February claiming in a television interview that Kurien was present at the guest house where the victim was exploited and that he (Dharmarajan) was under pressure from the investigators to refrain from mentioning the Congress leader’s name.

A lawyer by profession, Dharmarajan was the only accused convicted by the Kerala High Court in 2005 while it cleared 34 others earlier held guilty by a special court that conducted trial in the case in the late 1990s.

After serving a brief jail term, Dharmarajan was freed on bail but never returned to prison and his whereabouts were unknown till he resurfaced in February, after the case took a new turn with the Supreme Court asking the Kerala High Court to conduct a re-trial.

The sex scandal took place at Suryanelli in Idukki district January 1996. A 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor and was later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42

 

26 years on, HC orders fresh probe into tribal activist’s murder


Mumbai: Twenty-six years after an activist was murdered for fighting a battle against the land mafia of Vasai-Virar belt in neighbouring Thane district, the Bombay High Court has ordered a fresh probe.

The real culprits were not put on trial and instead a wrong accused was put behind the bars, the Court said.

Bombay High Court. Reuters

Bombay High Court. Reuters

Yadav Mhatre, actively involved in the welfare of the Adivasis (tribals), was killed on June 29, 1987 allegedly at the behest of the land mafia.

Police had arrested a wrong person named Dilip Tumbda who was finally acquitted by the Sessions Court in 2009 after spending 22 years in jail.

On the other hand, eight persons of a family who were named accused by the victim’s family were discharged by the Court after police filed an application seeking their release on the ground that evidence against them was deficient.

The High Court observed, “real culprits were being shielded although they are named by the prosecution. The criminal case, therefore, could not have been disposed of perfunctorily and hastily and without application of mind, when the allegations are as serious as of causing murder.

“These are not routine and ordinary criminal cases involving petty offences. The aspect of delay, though material, is not always fatal. The administration of justice can never become a casualty. Even after delay, if real culprits are brought before the Court, thereafter the Courts cannot become a silent spectator and dispose of criminal cases casually and light heartedly,” Justice S Dharmadhikari said.

The judgement rendered in this Court, therefore, falls short of the required standards. It has resulted in serious miscarriage of justice.

“In the Sessions Case, where the material placed before the Court show that the real accused were not apprehended, arrested and put up for trial, then, the learned Judge should have been cautious and careful in evaluating the material,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.

“Even if he (Judge) was not inclined to convict those who are arraigned as accused, still he was obliged to consider the seriousness of the matter.

“The learned Judge failed to take cognisance and note of the request of the applicant and the prosecution, that the real culprits are now traced and they be named as accused in the case and put up for trial,” the High court bench observed.

“Without deciding that application in accordance with law and straightway delivering a Judgement of acquittal has resulted in miscarriage of justice. This is complete mockery of criminal justice delivery system.”

“I would be failing in my duty as a higher court if I do not interfere with such an acquittal. In revisional powers and equally in exercise of this Court’s inherent power, such acquittals can be set aside,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

“No doubt, powers have to be exercised sparingly and in exceptional circumstances. However, when there is a glaring defect of procedure, manifest error on the point of law and a flagrant miscarriage of justice, then, there is a obligation to step in,” he observed.

On June 28, 1987, the deceased, Yadav Mhatre, was on his way to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre where he worked as a fitter.

He was accompanied by his brother Ganghadhar, the lone eyewitness in this case. According to Gangadhar, eight persons fired shots at Yadav and escaped after committing the crime.

Gangadhar filed a police complaint and identified the accused as Govind Patil, Mahadev, Kisan, Baban Gharat, Kanti Dhumal, Atmaram Yadav, Kisan Patil and Baban Patil.

The police arrested them and also recovered the weapon. The case was then handed over to CID.

However, CID probe set free these accused and police instead arrested Dilip Tumbda, a young labourer. Dilip’s father and two brothers were also arrested but released later.

After 22 years, Tumbda was finally acquitted on June 29, 2009 by a Sessions court.

While ordering a fresh probe now, the High Court has made it clear that Dilip shall not be arraigned as an accused in this case since his acquittal has not been disputed.

PTI

 

 

Story behind the ‘Lost Case”- despite social legal support #Vaw #Justice


Mumbai, Majlis Team , March 31,, 2013

As  fourteen year old Priya  had not been getting her periods for some months, her mother took her to Shatabdi, a  public Hospital in the nearby area, for a check up.  During examination it came to light that the child was five months pregnant! A case was not filed, but Priya and her mother were referred to the hospital’s counselling centre where two very young social work students were placed. The students knew about Majlis’ Socio Legal Support for Survivors of Sexual Assault programme.

So, it was by sheer luck that Priya and her mother Anju reached our office. I was one of the first people to speak to Priya after she discovered she was pregnant. With large fluid eyes and a scared look on her face, she revealed that she and her friends would often go to a Pramuk’s  (leader) house to help his wife with house work. About six months ago, when his wife was not at home, this 50 year old man raped her.  He threatened her that if she ever spoke to anyone about it, he would kill her. She had no idea about the consequences which might befall on her, and hence kept silent, and did not even confide in her mother.  It was poignant to watch the child, who had just realised that she was pregnant, trying to cover her stomach with her dupatta.

Anju is an illiterate single mother trying desperately to manage her family by earning a meagre amount as a domestic maid. She is extremely naïve and had never stepped out of her local area. She, and her mother before her, have lived in the same slum their entire lifetime. When faced with the news,  Anju’s only concern was how to quietly get an abortion and end the story. She was extremely afraid that if her son found out all hell would break loose. The pramukh was influential and she did not want any hassles with the police. We tried our best to assure her that if she wanted to complain we would support her in her pursuit of justice… but these words did not make any sense to her.

We asked her to think about what she wanted to do and promised to meet her the next day at the hospital (she did not want us to come home). But the next day Anju did not turn up. Our team were rid with fear at what she would have done with her daughter in order to cover up the incident. Priya’s pregnancy was well past the statutory limit permitting an abortion and we were scared about the danger to her life. There was no way of contacting Anju as she had not given us a number or an address.

Then three days later Anju contacted us. All hell had broken loose as her son found out. The police was informed and an FIR was lodged. The accused was taken into custody, required medical tests were done and statements were recorded. Priya was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and was taken to a shelter home.

Our first challenge was to ensure Priya’s health and well being were being taken care of in the shelter home. We would accompany Anju every week to visit Priya in the shelter home. We counselled Priya to cope with her situation. Priya was not comfortable at the government shelter home,  so we requested the CWC to move her to a home for unwed mothers run by Christian Missionary Sisters in the Western suburbs. The request was granted.

We also counselled Anju and her son to help them cope with the situation. When Priya delivered her baby we were there. Anju could not reach the hospital as she could not travel alone late in the night. Anju still  feels bad that she would not be with her daughter during her delivery. Given Priya’s tender age and Anju’s financial condition, there was no question of keeping  the baby. We had to repeatedly remind the police to collect the blood samples of  the baby, so that the child could be put up for adoption.

Priya returned home and Anju was keen to care for her daughter. But she soon realised that due to sniggering and humiliation from neighbours it was impossible to keep her daughter with her. Everything had changed. Priyas was forced to live in the village where poverty was worse and she was not even given basic nutrition. Anju was desperately trying to collect money to move to another slum. Multiple vulnerabilities were  at play here. Since we do not have a financial assistance project and the State Victim Compensation Scheme was not in place, we could not offer any financial support to the family.

But on the other hand, the case was progressing smoothly. We followed up with the police to ensure that the investigation was on track and the charge sheet filed in a timely manner. Within two and half months of the incident the charge sheet was filed and the matter was committed to the Sessions Court. This was an open and shut case, we were confident of a conviction. This was one of the few cases we have come across where the statements were  recorded by the police without any loopholes, DNA proof was there…. So imagine our shock and utter dismay when the DNA report came negative.

The blood samples of the accused did not match that of the child. The police called Anju to the Police Station and shouted and abused her for two-three hours. We rushed to the Police Station and impressed upon the officer that his duty was only to submit the DNA report to the court and not pass any value judgment.

We met Priya and tried to probe if there was any other person. But Priya, all of fourteen and having gone through the ordeal, with utmost conviction reassured us, that he alone was the  culprit. We believed her.

The Public Prosecutor (PP) accused Priya of having a boyfriend. You cannot trust these teenaged girls, I think this case is ‘fishy’, she said. Her entire approach towards the case changed dramatically after the DNA report. But if Priya had a boyfriend, the news would have spread as this is a thickly populated slum with huts adjacent to each other. Nothing misses the keenly watchful eyes of the  neighbours.

We were extremely worried how the PP, whose job is to defend Priya would conduct the trial. We watched the PP like hawks on every date to ensure she was doing her job.

Priya was brilliant in her examination and cross. We were there by her side to support her. The PP ofcourse did not even bother to meet her before the trial and prepare her.

The defence lawyer used all kinds of underhand tactics during Anju’s cross. He accused her of being a woman of loose character and being greedy and wanting to extract money from the accused. But before he could ask any more embarrassing questions, the presiding officer, a sensitive lady judge, stopped him. This judge is known to follow Sakshi Guidelines, not allow unnecessary questions and most of all, she makes the witness comfortable in court. All this helps bring the best evidence before the Court.

The final arguments were a disaster. The PP argued with absolute lack of interest (She may not have even argued if we were not there). She submitted the case laws and the written arguments that we had prepared, because we insisted. The Defence Counsel argued at length about how the DNA Report was negative and therefore it was clear that the accused had been framed to take revenge because the victim’s mother was not allocated a tenement under the slum rehabilitation scheme.

Judgment: “Not guilty, the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt”. The judge also commented that the plea of the defence about revenge appears to be probable!

Immediately after passing the judgement, in an informal tone, the Judge asked our lawyer whether we take up all cases or only ‘genuine’ cases. Before we could recover from the absurdity of this question, the PP replied “Oh, they take up any case that comes to them”.

We would have liked to answer that “not proving a case beyond reasonable doubt does not amount to a ‘false’ case.”  We would also liked to have responded to the  PP, “it is not your job to be judge… just do your best to prove your case, like you would if you were defending the accused in a murder trial, as a private lawyer.” But we kept silent as we have many other rape cases which are pending trial in this court.

We had the difficult task of informing Anju about the judgement. She was calm and took it in her stride. She told us that she was not interested in filing an appeal. She had changed her residence,  Priya was back at school and they were making every attempt to get over this trauma. We felt that despite the set back in court, we had empowered them to cope with the system and move on without leaving deep scars of revictimisation upon their psyche. This, in itself, was a victory! After all, conviction or acquittal is not in our hands. We are here to ensure that fair trial process has been followed.

Ideally, this narrative must end here, but it has a postscript. A few days later, a visibly shattered Anju came to our office. There was a story in the newspaper accusing Anju of filing a false case to frame the accused to get a tenement in the SRA scheme. It is this incident that broke Anju.  She wanted to file a case against the lawyer and the newspaper.  But since no names were mentioned there was nothing we could do. Anju told us that Priya had threatened to commit suicide after seeing the newspaper article. The society finally had its revenge.

The questions that haunt us at the end of this case are – yes, the case could not be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.  But it is also beyond doubt that a 14 year old vulnerable child had been violated and had to undergo the ordeal of childbirth and of giving up the child in adoption. Does the responsibility of the state end with the acquittal, or is there a responsibility beyond, to ensure the well being of this child.  Can state institutions entrusted with the responsibility of protecting children, brand her as ‘a liar’ and wash their hands off her, leaving her to deal with her fate, within the confines of her own vulnerabilities? We find no answers to these disturbing questions within the criminal legal system.

State of Maharashtra  v. Ramesh Dawle  Session Case  No. 349 of 2012

The matter was concluded within a year.

Majlis Legal Centre

A 4/2 Golden Valley, Kalina Kurla Road, Santacruz E, Mumbai 98

Tel: 022 26661252 / 26662394

Website: www.majlislaw.com

Facebook: majlislaw

 

Jharkhand – Tribal and Cultural Activist Jiten Marandi released from jail #goodnews


RANCHI, March 29, 2013, The Hindu

Jiten Marandi, cultural activist and one of the secretaries of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners was released from Birsa jail in Hotwar in Ranchi on Thursday.

He was accused with 19 others in 2008 in the October 26, 2007 massacre at Chilkari in which 19 persons, including Anup Marandi, son of the former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, were kille. While the Jharkhand High Court acquitted him in December 2011 of the death sentence given to him by a Sessions Court, he had to remain in jail as the government invoked the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (2002) against him.

“Jiten was falsely accused in all cases because he had taken active part in resistance movements going on in Jharkhand. He had to stay in jail for five years because the authorities had filed these politically-motivated cases.

“He would have got released even sooner but he chose to not appeal against the government’s order which remained in force for two years,” said Sushanto Mukherjee, Marxist Coordination Committee central committee member, who received Mr. Marandi after his release from Birsa jail in Hotwar.

 

#Mumbai Court rejects Jerrit John’s bail application #Vaw #Acidattack


Rebecca Samervel, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 03.40 AM IST

JERRIT11
MUMBAI: A Sewri sessions court on Friday rejected the bail plea of film professional Jerrit John, arrested on the charge of attempting to murder his former lover.

“The court read out the operative part of the order and said that the bail plea was rejected,” the victim’s lawyer, Faiz Merchant, said.

On November 7, John allegedly hurled a chemical on his 26-year-old former girlfriend, physiotherapist Aryanka Hosbetkar, at her residence in Worli.

John is also facing charges of wrongful confinement and theft. He was arrested from Nalasopara on November 10.

The police said John planned the attack after Hosbetkar refused to marry him despite his promise to divorce his wife, with who he has a five-year-old son.

Opposing John’s bail application, the police said in court that if released on bail, he was likely to harm the witnesses, including the victim, and jumping bail.

John had applied for bail in December as well, but withdrawn it later.

Merchant too had filed an intervention application opposing the bail plea. “Allowing the accused to go on bail at such a premature stage would set a bad precedent in society where acid attacks are becoming more common than otherwise,” Merchant had said.

Related articles

Journalist Shahina, media person intimidated outside court #Vaw


By Newzfirst Correspondent2/22/13

Coorg – Alleging that Journalist Shahina and a media person – present at the spot – were intimidated by a group of right-wing activists outside the Sessions Court in Coorg district of Karnataka, an activist present at the spot said that the Police is doing nothing to stop their bullying.

Journalist Shahina K K, who previously worked with Tehelka, had come to the Sessions Court in Coorg to seek bail. She was accompanied by media persons from the Media One Kerala media channel.

“Although Shahina has been granted bail in her case, about 8 to 10 right-wing activists are intimidating the Media One channel persons here. They asked them to show the visuals recorded in their camera after which they demanded that the visuals be deleted,” Jisha, an activist who is present at the spot, told Newzfirst.

“The police, which is present here, is doing nothing to stop the bullies” added Jisha.

Shahina, in her article written while she was still working with Tehelka, had showed that witnesses in the Bangalore serial blasts case were fragile, false and forced. Following the publication of this article, she was implicated under charges of section 506 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The accusation of Karnataka Police is that she ‘intimidated the key witnesses’ in the blasts case during the course of her interviews taken for the article.

 

#India- Drugged, raped minor gets Justice #Vaw


Published: Friday, Feb 8, 2013, 9:30 IST
By Mustafa Plumber & Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

 

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 20 men in the case of a minor who was drugged by her neighbour, raped, and then blackmailed into prostitution in 2005. She was then a Class IX student in Aurangabad.

Those convicted include men who claimed they were unaware of the victim’s age as they took her to be a sex worker, a contention the court refused to accept. Also convicted is one accused who married the victim after he was pronounced guilty by the Aurangabad sessions court.

In a judgment delivered on February 4, the division bench of justices AH Joshi and UD Salvi confirmed the sentences of all those convicted by the trial court, reducing the sentence of eight accused, including the man who married the victim.

Chetan Popatlal Bhalgat, who married the victim in May 2011, prayed for a less than minimum sentence, citing the marriage and the fact he had given her Rs21 lakh in cash as well as a row-house worth Rs13.30 lakh, a shopping premise and a plot of land in Ahmednagar. While he claimed this mitigates the malevolence of the crime, the court only reduced his sentence from 10 years to eight years.

The judges observed, “…the genesis of the culpability of the accused did not spring from the insanity of a lover but was a plain lust supported by pecuniary ability, namely he could pay for what he had craved for”.

As Bhalgat had done something restitutive for the victim, the court reduced his sentence by two years.

The court also accepted the testimony of the victim as reliable and said, “A witness who is very well grown up cannot be expected to give narration of sexual wrongs done to her which are per se traumatic, with minute details or particulars. It shall suffice if she utters the word physical/sexual relationship or rape.”

According to the judgment, the minor was threatened by an accused who is now deceased that photographs of the sexual encounters would be published in local newspapers. Under threat, the minor was coerced to have sex with several men until she was rescued by a local NGO. The girl was taken to people’s homes and to hotels in rickshaws and hired cars, where she was forced to dispense sexual favours repeatedly.

Four men aged between 20 and 25 — Hardeek Lakhamichand Jaggad, Aakash Subhash Rathi, Aatmaram Ramrao Dengale and Ramakant Ramrao Dengale — were sentenced to eight years.

The others who were sentenced to 10 years apart from the man who married her are Balkishan Premraj Goel, Ajay Sudhakar Kate, Aaba alias Dyandev Bhagchand Gondkar, Abdul Haq Fakir Mohammad Kureshi, Rajendra Shivajirao Thorat, Ravindra Shivajirao Thorat, Raghunath Ramnath Zolekar, Vasant Mangu Pawara, Ramrao Moniraj Dengale, Tukaram Gena Misal, Ramesh Rajaram Barkase, Ashok Babasaheb Kasar, Vilas ere Karale, Ruchin Mehta, and Harjit Rajpal.

The court observed in its 126-page judgment that “law takes stern view in the crimes concerning rape not only for the reason of physical harm that it causes to a woman but also for she being left destitute to suffer life-long mental trauma”.

 

PRESS RELEASE- Newly Married Dalit Couple brutally assaulted #TISS


FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
NEWLY MARRIED DALIT COUPLE BRUTALLY ASSAULTED
PFA the Fact Sheet and the Detailed Report of the case of Physical Assault of Vaibhav Ghadage, TISS alumnus SW Batch 2010 and his newly wed wife Mohini Ghadage.They were married on the 20th.of January 2013 in Baramati. On the evening of 22nd.January 2013, they were brutally beaten up and left to die by three local goons in Vaibhav’s ancestral village Kulakjai, Maan Taluka, Satara district, Maharashtra.The Ghadge family has lodged an FIR and the police has charge IPC section 394 (robbery) and Section 34(common intent) against the three accused. Vaibhav, with fatal skull injuries and Mohini with injuries all over her body are currently out of danger, although still hospitalized in YNTC, Satara town.
 
Assaulted, near fatally injured, molested, pushed off a cliff and left for dead.
These were definitely not the thoughts that were running through Vaibhav’s and Mohini’s minds before they set out on the evening of January 22, 2013 to their village temple. But these words simply describe what happened to them on that fateful evening, just two days after their much anticipated wedding.
 
The Incident
They were followed by three men on motorcycles as they traveled to the temple situated along the cliffs near Kulakjai Village (Maan Taluka, Satara District, Maharashtra) around 5.30pm. The temple is situated outside the village.  The area is generally deserted. As they finished visiting the temple the three men attacked the newly wedded couple without warning or provocation. Vaibhav and Mohini were taken to edge of the cliffs. There they were beaten repeatedly and assaulted with stones. Mohini was forced by the men to watch as they continued to brutalize Vaibhav. While their phones were taken away, Mohini was forced to hand over all the gold she was wearing. The assaulters then tried to pull her sari off.  She was told that if she did not “cooperate” with them she would have to watch Vaibhav being done to death, and that she would be responsible for that happening. In trying to resist them, she held on to one end of the sari. Vaibhav threw a stone at the one doing this. Following this the man let go of the sari because of which Mohini fell off the cliff from a height of 300 feet and lost consciousness. Thinking her to be dead, they turned their focus completely onto Vaibhav and kept hitting his head with rocks. When it seemed to them that he was passing out to all the injuries, including a serious head injury (later identified as a cracked skull), the three men threw him off the cliff. Believing the couple to be dead, they left the place.
Mohini regained consciousness after about an hour and began climbing up the cliffs. She did this in spite of the serious injuries she had suffered all over her body, in addition to the various internal injuries. Vaibhav, who was slipping in and out of consciousness at that time, was able to call out her a couple of times before passing out completely. This allowed Mohini to find him, who then pulled Vaibhav up to a place of relative safety amongst the cliffs. Upon reaching the top, Mohini was able to make contact with some people living near the temple, with whose help she called her maternal home. They then alerted Vaibhav’s family, who put together a search party to find and rescue him. Vaibhav was found and rescued a couple of hours later and both of them were rushed to the hospital. Vaibhav was admitted to the ICU due the grievous nature of his injuries.
Their condition stabilized only two days after the incident. Vaibhav is at present out of the ICU. Mohini has suffered many internal injuries and is unable to eat solid food to date. An FIR was lodged with the Dahiwada Police Station on January 24, 2013. Statements from Mohini and Vaibhav have been recorded by the police. The police have registered a case of robbery with grievous injury. The couple has identified the perpetrators and one arrest has been made as of January 26, 2013.
 
The Background
While prima facie this incident is being considered as a case of robbery, the magnitude of brutality meted out to Mohini and Vaibhav should force one to examine the larger context of the case in detail. Motive of robbery alone instigating such violence is questionable. Mohini has stated to the police that the men who assaulted them were speaking and laughing to each other before throwing Vaibhav off the cliff. One of them reportedly said, Aata yanchya gharcha dusra gela! (There! One more person of the family is now dead!)” This statement by itself should be seen as one that weakens this case as one of mere robbery. A brief look into the family history will provide further clarity.
Vaibhav’s paternal uncle, Shri Madhukar Ghadage, was murdered in April 2007 over a land dispute with a family belonging to the dominant Mali caste (Kulakjai Village is home to 30 Dalit families, while the rest are Malis). This murder definitely had caste based overtones and the case was registered under the Prevention SC/ST Atrocities Act. Eleven persons were arrested. The prime accused in the murder case, Mr. Bhivaji Kapse, is the maternal cousin of the sitting MLA of Maan, Mr. Jaikumar Gore. Mr. Gore exercises significant clout and influence over government officials in the area. He is known to be close to  Mr Prithviraj Chavan, presently the sitting Chief Minister of Maharashtra. There were many obstructions to the process of investigation in this case which can only be traced back to pressure from higher authorities. Consequently, all the accused were let out on bail by the Sessions Court. The case is presently pending at the High Court with the hearing date yet to be set. Meanwhile all the accused remain to out on bail.
Last year, around October, the farming equipment and fields of the Ghadage family at Kulakjai were sabotaged. This led to the family incurring financial losses. The perpetrators of the farm incident could not be positively identified, though the family has strong suspicions that the family of the prime accused in the murder case is involved.
The prime accused in the Mohini-Vaibhav assault case, Navnath Kapase, is also an accused in the murder of Shri Madhukar Ghadage. He is the son of Bhivaji Kapase (who is the the prime accused in the murder case) and nephew of the MLA, Mr. Jaikumar Gore.
With this background thus established, the alleged motive of robbery in the latest incident of violence on Vaibhav and Mohini comes under serious doubt. The impunity with which Navnath Kapase has dared to commit such a crime while out on bail for murder, should give one further food for thought.
 
Implications
The Ghadage family is in constant fear of further harm befalling them. They are worried about the safety and security of all family members. The social and economic progress of the family has been thwarted at every step. Members of the family are being systematically targeted one after another, at regular intervals. Yesterday it was Shri Madhukar Ghadage and today it is Vaibhav. Tomorrow it could be anyone else in the family. The perpetrators need to get the message that they cannot expect to go scot free for the crimes they commit just because of their upper caste affiliations and the resultant connections in high political places.
 
Action Required
1.      The case is presently been registered under very weak sections in comparison to the nature of crime i.e. sections 394 (robbery) and Section 34 (common intent). Also the caste overtones in the case need to be examined. This incident cannot be considered an event in isolation, but one in a series of actions aimed at systematically disrupting the lives and livelihood of the various members of the Ghadage family in Kulakjai Village.
2.      That this case be brought under the purview of the Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act.
3.      That the case be registered as one of attempted murder, as the details clearly imply.
4.      It should be ensured that the Investigation Officer and investigation process in the matter of the Mohini-Vaibhav assault is not influenced by politicians.
5.      That the Shri Madhukar Ghadage Murder case pending with the High Court is fast tracked and hearing dates set immediately.
6.      That the bail of all accused in the murder case be cancelled with immediate effect as they are a constant threat to the family, as they have already demonstrated.
7.      That the safety and security of the Ghadage family is ensured at Kulakjai village.
Please contact the following people if you can be of proactive assistance in ensuring justice for this family at the earliest.
Tushar Ghadge – +91 90962 49712 /  +91 75886 96559
Mayank Sinha – +91 80802 67769
The above piece is based on inputs from Tushar Ghadage.

 

#India-Man gets life term for rape #Vaw #Justice


TNN | Jan 4, 2013, 02.24 AM IST

RAJKOT: An additional sessions court on Thursday awarded rigorous life imprisonment to a 38-year-old man, who was found guilty of raping a 12-and-a-half-year-old minor girl in Bharana village of Khambhalia taluka of Jamnagar district in 2011.

The Khambhalia court has also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Ikbal Juma Chamadia, a widower and father of five children, upon his conviction.

Public prosecutor K D Vadagama said the case was registered at Vadinar marine police station on August 10, 2011, by the victim against Chamdia.

The crime came to light after the victim became six-month pregnant. The victim later gave birth to a baby. “The minor girl’s family members had gone to Bhandaria village in Bhavnagar district as some relative was ill. Ikbal knew that she was alone. He entered her house and raped the victim at knife-point,” Vadgama said.

A DNA test of the minor, her child and the accused confirmed that the baby was that of Ikbal, the public prosecutor said.

Additional sessions judge P V Shrivastav awarded rigorous life imprisonment under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code and two years’ rigorous imprisonment each for IPC Sections 341 and 506(2). The sentence would run concurrently. If the accused fails to pay the fine, he would have to serve two more years in jail. The fine amount would be given to the victim, who had to go through a traumatic experience because of the accused.