Under immense public pressure for challenging the Hisar special court's May orders of acquitting six upper-caste (Jat) men accused of raping a minor Dalit girl of Dabra village in Hisar district, the Haryana government has now reasoned "administrative exigencies" and "routine procedural delay" of more than three months in approaching the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The crime was committed on September 9 last year. The special court for heinous crime against women, Hisar, had on May 5 this year sentenced four accused, namely Pawan, Raj Kumar, Baljeet and Vikas, to life imprisonment. However, acquitting six other accused, namely Dharmender, Anil, Kuldeep, Sunil, Suresh and Rajesh, the trial court had stated, "The prosecution has miserably failed to establish the guilt of accused".
Though the state advocate general had on September 11 conveyed to the Hisar district magistrate that "the government has declined to file an appeal", later, on November 15, the advocate general "sought an affidavit regarding condonation of delay and with application for filing the appeal".
Now, the state has suddenly realised that the acquittal of accused under sections 376(g) (gang rape), 363 (kidnapping) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and 3(1) of the SC/ST Act "has caused grave miscarriage of justice". The high court has been requested for directions to issue arrest warrants of the accused.
The state government's appeal seeking condonation of 108 days' delay, which came up for hearing before the division bench headed by justice SS Saron on Monday, has now been adjourned for the next hearing in February.
Grounds of appeal
The petition mentions that the trial court had passed the judgment on "flimsy grounds" and failed to appreciate the victim's testimony that the acquitted accused had committed rape on her. The trial court had "wrongly given undue weightage" to not mentioning names of the acquitted accused in the FIR and the victim's initial statement before the magistrate.
The trial court had acquitted the accused under SC/ST Act even when it was proved on record that the victim belonged to a Scheduled Caste and all the accused belong to the upper caste and knew the fact. The trial court acquitted Dharmender, Anil and Vikas, even though they were arrested by the police from Uttarakhand when they were on the run. The trial court had wrongly acquitted Suresh and Rajesh who harboured other two convicted accused Anil and Pawan, the petition added.
The 16-year-old girl was kidnapped by a group of 10 Jat youths on September 9, 2012, who raped her on the outskirts of the town. While raping her, they had also allegedly filmed the crime. The victim's father committed suicide on September 18 after coming to know about the rape and seeing the video of the crime. The police had registered an FIR at Sadar police station in Hisar on September 19, 10 days after the crime.