SC calls for speedy trial in Unnao case, Sengar's aide moves court for extension

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New Delhi: Shashi Singh, an associate of main accused in the Unnao rape case, MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, on Monday approached the Supreme Court, seeking an extension of the time slated for completion of the trial in the matter.

The request comes amidst the SC statement that it wanted "fair and speedy trial" in all cases arising out of the rape of the Unnao minor.

On August 1, the Supreme Court shifted the five cases connected with the Unnao rape incident to Delhi, assigned a special judge to conduct day-to-day trial and ordered that the trial should be completed within 45 days.

Singh sought modification of the order saying that time fixed for completing the trial in all five cases in 45 days is highly irrational and prejudicial to the rights of accused for a fair and transparent trial.

Singh, who is accused in all five cases, requested the top court to grant the extension, holding that period of 45 days was only directory and not mandatory and the trial court ought to keep in minds the right of the accused to a fair and proper trial.

He also told the court that the transfer of the case from Lucknow to Delhi hampered he defence as he had no lawyer in Delhi. Citing "material inconsistencies" and "discrepancies" in the statements made by the rape survivor, her mother and uncle before the investigating agency and courts, she said that she needs time to conduct proper cross-examination of the witnesses.

Singh also told the court that Central Bureau of Investigation has filed charge sheets in only three cases out of five.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta granted more time to the Central Bureau of Investigation to file status report into the Unnao rape survivor accident case and listed the matter for September 6 for further hearing.

The court had taken suo moto cognizance of a letter written by the victim's family alleging threats from Sengar's aides.

SC demands fair and speedy trial

The top court has sought a report from the special judge Dharmesh Sharma, who is holding trial in cases arising out of the Unnao rape.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose sought the report from the trial court judge by September 6, on how much time is needed for the completion of the trial.

"We want a fair trial but at the same time we also want a speedy trial in these cases," the bench said.

During the hearing, counsel appearing for Sengar and other co-accused Shashi Singh said that charge-sheet has not been filed by the CBI in the accident case.

The bench said that it would be better if it knows the views of the special judge on how much time was needed to complete the trial in these cases.

The bench listed the matter for Friday.

The court had also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to pay Rs 5 lakh to the lawyer, who is in a critical condition and undergoing treatment.

The court had taken exception to some public statements made by the family members of the rape survivor in the media and said it might help the accused during the trial of the case.

Kuldeep Singh Sengar
Four time BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is the primary accused in the Unnao rape case.

On August 1, the apex court had directed Uttar Pradesh government to provide Rs 25 lakh to the rape survivor as an interim compensation.

It had earlier ordered transfer of all the five related cases in the matter to Delhi but later modified its order putting in abeyance shifting of the accident case till the probe was completed.

The modification was done stating that due to shifting of the case, the local court was facing technical hurdle in passing orders of remand for the accused who are being arrested in course of the probe.

In-camera proceedings at AIIMS

In a rare development, a Delhi court Monday suggested holding part of the proceedings, in-camera, at AIIMS in the 2017 Unnao rape case in which expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is the key accused.

After the in-camera hearing at the court on Monday, lawyers appearing in the case said that District Judge Dharmesh Sharma asked the counsel of the accused whether the statement of the rape survivor can be recorded at AIIMS hospital here, where she is admitted following an accident on July 28.

The court will pass the order on Tuesday.

On July 28, the car in which the rape survivor, her lawyer and two aunts were travelling was hit by a speeding truck in Rae Bareli. Both her aunts were killed in the accident and the rape survivor and her lawyer critically injured.

Brought to AIIMS last month, both the rape survivor and her lawyer are on advanced life support systems, and being treated by a multidisciplinary team from critical care, orthopaedics, trauma surgery and pulmonary medicine departments.

Sengar, a four-time MLA from UP's Bangermau, was accused of raping the woman, and he was arrested last year in April.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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