A special court in Kottayam on Thursday sentenced two students of a nursing college to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) and another to three years of RI for raping a junior during a ragging incident.
Special court judge K Sasidharan Nair on Wednesday found the three guilty while letting off three other students. The principal of the School of Medical Education (SME) and the head of the psychiatry department of Kottyam Medical College were also let off for want of evidence. They were charged with conspiracy to destroy evidence.
Renjith Verghese, TV Sherin and Shefique Yusef, in their early 20s, were sentenced under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 354 (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman) and Section 377 (2) g (gangrape) and under the provisions of the Prohibition of Ragging Act.
The case had created an uproar in Kerala and invited the attention of the Supreme Court. Even the R.K. Raghavan panel, appointed by the HRD Ministry to formulate guidelines against ragging, has quoted the SME ragging case.
In what started off as a case of ragging and went beyond it, the prosecution said the accused sexually assaulted the victim, a first year BSc nursing student, in a deserted laboratory in 2005. Initially, there were attempts to hush up the case and the victim was forcibly admitted in the psychiatry ward of Kottayam Medical College.
During trial, the doctor who treated the girl, Dr Saibunisa Beevi, was made an accused for not complying with medico-legal formalities. The case came to light three weeks later when student organisations took it up. Later, a team of doctors confirmed sexual assault on the 17-year-old girl.
The victim, the daughter of a poor rubber plant employee, subsequently quit the college. In 2007, there was an attempt on her life.
“I am really happy; the judicial system is there to protect the poor. I am satisfied with the verdict”, said the girl’s father after the verdict.