SC tells Jindal univ rape accused to share iCloud password with victim after blackmail charge
The three accused were jailed by a trial court but the Punjab and Haryana HC suspended their conviction on the grounds that the woman was “promiscuous” and had “casual sexual escapades”.india Updated: Feb 07, 2018 20:11 IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it would not tolerate the possibility of “continuous blackmail” of the gangrape victim of OP Jindal Global University by the accused students, and asked them to share the password of their laptops containing her photos.
A division bench of justices SA Bobde and LN Rao asked the accused to share the iCloud account password with the victim.
“We are not concerned about the guilty. We are concerned about the present situation. There are pictures of the girl with one of you. It is difficult for us to accept and tolerate continuous blackmail,” Justice Bobde told the counsels appearing for the accused.
It added: “You must give access to those photographs. If you have deleted, make sure that they are not released. If not, you have to give the password to the girl.”
Senior advocates Shanti Bhushan and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the accused, told the court that if any password is available, it will be shared.
The three accused -- Hardin Sikri, Karan Chhabra and Vikas Garg -- were earlier jailed by a trial court for raping a fellow student, However, the Punjab and Haryana high court suspended their conviction and sentence September last year on the grounds that the woman was “promiscuous” and had “casual sexual escapades”.
Challenging HC’s order of suspension of their sentences, the victim approached the apex court. She alleged that the accused have been blackmailing her as they have her objectionable pictures and expressed apprehension of circulation of those photographs.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the victim, argued that the accused have not shared the password and also sought the court’s help to see the WhatsApp chats to understand the threats allegedly made to the girl.
The top court had earlier stayed the bail granted to them by the HC.
On April 11, 2015, the victim had lodged a complaint with the university administration alleging that the trio, final year law students of the university, had been blackmailing and raping her since August 2013.
She had also alleged that the accused had objectionable photos and they used to threaten to release the photos, and coerced her to have physical relations with them.
In March last year, the trial court in Sonipat had held the three guilty of the offence and awarded a 20-year sentence to Hardik and Karan each and a seven-year jail term to Vikas, for gang-raping and blackmailing the victim.
In September, the high court had suspended their sentence and granted them bail against which the victim approached the top court.