News by Aditi Gupta/PTI:
People of high repute, including TERI’s R. K. Pachauri, AAP MLA Somnath Bharti and Mahmood Farooqui of ‘Peepli Live’ fame faced charges of sexual assault and molestation in 2015 in Delhi courts, one of which awarded life imprisonment to the accused driver in the Uber rape case.
Besides the rape case against Farooqui in which an American national was a victim, other sexual assault cases concerning foreign nationals that were watched keenly were the trial in the January 2014 gangrape case of a Danish woman and another one in which 30-year-jail term was awarded to two youth for gangraping a Ugandan woman in June 2014.
Delivering the verdict in the Ugandan woman’s gangrape case, the judge observed that “their (convicts) act brought India disrepute in the eyes of the world” for which they deserved exemplary sentence.
However, one case which had a chilling effect on society was the December 5, 2014 Uber rape case in which a fast-track court despite facing legal hurdles created by the accused, concluded the entire criminal prosecution in 11 months, sending 33-year-old driver Shiv Kumar Yadav to jail for entire life.
While the Uber case and others kept the courts busy, controversial AAP MLA Bharti, who faced a non-bailable warrant in a domestic violence case, lodged by his estranged wife Lipika Mitra, played hide and seek with the law before surrendering after getting a rap from the Supreme Court.
Out on bail, the MLA also had a regular outing before the Saket trial court for his midnight raid during the first stint of AAP government when he was the Law Minister and charged with a molestation case lodged by African nationals.
So was the case with climate scientist Pachauri, who lost his hold over the TERI and was a regular visitor to the Saket court where he is facing the rigour of the criminal proceedings to come out clean in the sexual harassment case lodged by a researcher who quit the organisation alleging that she was not treated well by the management.
The court acted tough against the people of “high social status” for committing crimes against women by terming their unlawful actions as “unpardonable” and in 2 such cases a 7 years jail term was awarded to an already married officer of NHRC for deceitfully entering into a wedlock with a widow; and an engineer with PWD for sexually exploiting a woman colleague on the false pretext of marriage.
Another shocker was a complaint alleging attempt to rape by a retired sessions judge on his daughter-in-law. The judge was, however, granted anticipatory bail later.
While Delhi continues to report cases of assault against minors, a court declined any leniency to a senior citizen for raping a minor girl in a temple by awarding 10 years imprisonment for the offence committed in 2012 in the Mangolpuri area.
This year also saw a case in which the perpetrator of the crime against a female was a woman herself and one incident which shook the public conscience was where life term was imposed on a mother for killing and throwing her infant daughter in a sewer.
An area of concern was also the misuse of laws when courts across the city noticed that there were several false rape complaints lodged to settle personal scores with one judge advocating that the time has come to deal firmly with women filing false cases as they are “tormentors warranting punishment”.
The judge also said that false implication causes humiliation, disgrace and mental agony to the accused and directed lodging of an FIR against the woman for lodging false case against her neighbour.
That was 2015. Hopefully with stricter laws and better implementation in place, 2016 should see an improvement in justice for crimes committed against women.
Inputs by YKA Staff.