A trial court on Friday convicted four persons of rape in infamous Dabra gangrape case of a Dalit minor girl on September 9, 2012.
Declaring four persons guilty, the fast-track court acquitted four others of rape charges and two of harbouring the accused.
As soon as the lawyers informed the victim about the court order, she fell unconscious and had to be hospitalised. Later, the victim's family said they would approach the high court as they were not satisfied with the trial court's verdict.
Those convicted by the district and sessions judge, Madhu Khanna Lalli, were Vikas (23), Baljit (24), Raj Kumar (25) and Pawan (27) and those absolved of the charges were Anil (24), Mahender (24), Kuldeep (30) and Sunil (30).
It is to be noted that in the initial FIR lodged by the girl on September 19, the girl had named only those four who have been convicted by the court. Two others, Suresh (42) and Rajesh (35), who were booked for harbouring the accused, were also absolved of the charges by the court.
The detailed judgment and quantum of punishment would be announced by the court on Saturday. Seven of the accused persons in the rape case belong to the Jat community from girl's village, Dabra, while one person who belonged to Mangali village was from a backward caste.
The victim's family was not present in the court at the time of pronouncement of the verdict. When the victim's lawyer informed her about the verdict around 9.30am, she fell unconscious and was taken to the Civil Hospital. Doctors said her condition was stable.
“We are not satisfied with the court's judgment. The four accused should not have been acquitted by the court. We do not know what the grounds of their acquittal were. But we will approach the high court to seek justice,” the victim's mother and brother told Hindustan Times.
The victim's family is staying at a Hisar locality and has not visited the village since the incident took place. The local police have given protection to the victim's family.
Of the 10 accused in the case, two charged with sheltering the accused are out on bail, while rest are behind bars. The four persons acquitted by the court will remain behind bars for now in another case registered under Section 306 (abetment to suicide of the victim's father) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“The suicide of the victim's father is being heard separately by another court in Hisar,” said Vikram Mittal, one of the lawyers of the victim.
Reacting to the judgment, the victim's main lawyer, Lal Bahadur Khowal, said: “At a time when the nation is looking up to courts to deal such cases with an iron hand, acquittal of four accused in this case is a big blow. I am not satisfied with the judgment. On the behalf of the victim's family, I will pursue the case in the high court.”
Khowal said that in the final argument on Saturday when the court would announce quantum of punishment, he would appeal the court to give maximum punishment (for rape) - life imprisonment to the four convicts.
One of the defense lawyers in the case, JS Malhi, said those who had been convicted for rape by the trial court would move the high court against the court judgment.
“Quantum of punishment is to be announced on Saturday. Also, there will be arguments in the case again before the judge announces sentence. For me, at this stage, it is not appropriate to say anything. All I can say is that this court's conviction will be challenged in the high court,” Malhi said.
The trial in the case started on February 4 in a special fast-track court. The prosecution lawyer had presented 28 witnesses in the case, including the victim's mother and brother, while defense lawyers had invited three witnesses from their side.
A 16-year- old Dalit girl of Dabra village, Hisar, was kidnapped and gangraped on September 9, 2012, when she had left the village to visit one of her relatives in Patel Nagar area of Hisar. She was kidnapped by a group of youths who raped her on the outskirts of the town. While raping her, they had also 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 in the case on September 19, 10 days after the crime.
The residents and social organisations had hit the streets when the incident came to light and the victim's family refused to accept the body of the victim's father till all accused were arrested. The family performed last rites of the victim's father on September 23, only after one of the accused, Baljit, was arrested by the local police on September 22.
September 9, 2012: A 16-year-old Dalit girl gangraped, accused film the crime
September 18: The victim's father commits suicide after coming to know about the rape
September 19: Police register an FIR and name four persons as accused; locals hit the streets and the case hits headlines in national papers and channels
September 22: Police arrest one of the accused
September 23: Last rites of the victim's father performed
February 4, 2013: Trial starts in women special court in Hisar
May 1: Hearings completed in the case
May 3: Court convicts four in the case
May 4: Detailed judgment and quantum of punishment to be announced