Termed monsters by the court, all nine accused in the 2009 rape of a mentally challenged inmate of the Nari Niketan were convicted on Monday and awarded 10 years in prison.
Pronouncing the verdict, UT additional district and sessions judge Preeti Sahni termed the act, which came to light after the victim was found pregnant, "a matter of great shame". "The persons who were entrusted with the duty of looking after such fellows, became monsters and took advantage of their positions… and thereby ravished the poor, helpless and mentally retarded girl," she observed.
The judge also had some stern words for institutes such as Nari Niketan. "The present case shows how the affairs are going on in these institutes, which are meant for the welfare of destitute persons. If the persons at the helm of the affairs were diligent, this untoward incident perhaps could be avoided. So, they do not deserve leniency," read the four-page order convicting seven men and two women.
The case surfaced in 2009 after the girl was found pregnant at Ashreya, a home for the mentally challenged in Sector 47. But since she was into the third month of pregnancy by May 16 - the day the pregnancy was detected - it was established that it was the result of rape during her earlier stay at Nari Niketan.
The victim later named the accused, including staff of Nari Niketan and Ashreya, when counselled by Pragati Pandey, superintendent of Ashreya, who is the complainant in the case. The victim has since given birth to a baby girl after the Supreme Court rejected a plea to terminate her pregnancy.
Those pronounced guilty on Monday include seven men who abused the girl at the two shelter homes - Chhotu Ram, 32, security guard at Ashreya, who was found to be the biological father of the baby; Bhupinder Singh, 25, security guard on the Nari Niketan campus; Davinder Singh, 24, attendant at the male wing of Ashreya; Jamna Kumar Rana, 52, the security guard who manned the main gate of Nari Niketan; Bijender Singh, 38, watchman at the Nari Niketan; Bhagwandeen Yadav, 31, an attendant at Ashreya; Naresh Kumar, 30, driver at Government Institute for Mentally Retarded Children (GMRC), Sector 32.
The two women convicts worked at Nari Niketan -- 40-year-old Kamla, a sweeper-cum-attendant, and 38-year-old Maya, nurse-cum-attendant who maintained health records of the inmates.
While all nine were convicted under section 376 (2) (c) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which covers rape of an inmate by the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody, and under section 120B (criminal conspiracy). Maya was also convicted under section 201 of the IPC for causing disappearance of evidence. The court has also slapped a fine of Rs 2000 each on all the convicts.
Soon after the pronouncement of the order, the convicts started raising slogans and used abusive language against the judge and the media. About 50 police personnel were pressed into service to bring the situation under control.