April 14, 2016 2:22:14 am
Eleven years after a 13-year-old girl was kidnapped, tortured and burnt with cigarette butts before being gangraped by six youths, the sessions court in Lucknow Wednesday held main accused, Gaurav Shukla, guilty —a day after Supreme Court dismissed his special leave petition challenging an Allahabad High Court order declaring him an adult at the time of the crime.
Of the five other accused, two were convicted in 2007, one in 2013 while two others died the same year. The trial of Shukla, who is the nephew of former Samajwadi Party MLC and mafia don Arun Shanker Shukla ‘Anna’, was delayed as he first moved Juvenile Justice Board, then the sessions court followed by the high court and Supreme Court claiming that he was a minor when the incident, later came to be known as Aashiana gangrape case, had taken place on May 2, 2005.
While he did not get relief from any court, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court had recently ordered the trial court to pronounce the judgment on the next date of hearing. The local court had fixed April 13 for hearing.
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“After Additional District Judge Anil Kumar Shukla held Shukla guilty in the case, he was immediately taken into custody and sent to jail. The court has fixed April 16 for pronouncing the sentence,” said victim’s lawyer Jalaj Gupta.
The victim’s father expressed happiness at the verdict. “We are happy that Shukla, who had been the most brutal to my daughter and was the key accused, has finally been held guilty,” he said.
The case dates back to May 2, 2005. The minor was returning home in the evening when she kidnapped by four youths from Lucknow’s Aashiana colony. The youths, all drunk at the time, tortured the girl brutally burning her with cigarette butts and took turns raping her in the moving car. She was later taken to a farmhouse belonging to one of the accused where they again sexually assaulted her. Two other youths also arrived at the farmhouse and they too raped the victim.
After several hours of assault, the accused bundled dumped the semi-conscious victim in Hazratganj area. The victim, with the help of a passersby, reached home and informed her parents about the ordeal, following which they lodged an FIR. It took the police over a month to arrest the accused —- Shukla and his friends Aman Bakshi, Bhartendu Mishra, Faizan, Saurabh Jain and Asif Siddiqui. The car used in the crime was seized.
The trial court sentenced Aman and Bhartendu to 10 years imprisonment in 2007. Faizan was awarded life imprisonment in January 2013 while Saurabh and Asif died in a road accident that year. All three sentenced accused are presently out on bail.
The trial against Shukla remained pending as he initiated a legal battle claiming he was “a minor” at the time of crime. In October 2005, the Juvenile Justice Board declared him a minor. Prosecution filed an appeal against the order and the matter was sent back to the board.
On January 15, 2013, the board declared him an adult during the time of crime. Shukla then filed an appeal in the sessions court, which directed the board to consider the evidence submitted by the accused and accordingly declare the age. In March 2014, the Board declared Shukla an adult.
Shukla challenged the order in the sessions court, which dismissed it a year later, in March, 2015. He then filed a revision petition in the High Court, which dismissed it on March 18, 2016.
Shukla then moved a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the high court order, which was dismissed by the apex court on Tuesday.
In the meantime, the victim’s father had filed petition in the high court seeking direction for judgment in the case against Shukla. On April 8, the HC directed the trial court to pronounce the judgment on the next fixed date.
Several members of various organisations, including members of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and Saajhi Duniya, who had helped the victim fight the case, were present in the court when the judgment was delivered.
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