Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rape convict who cleared IAS gets SC ‘relief’

Rape convict who cleared IAS gets SC ‘relief’




New Delhi Over a year after the Delhi High Court overturned the life sentence of rape convict Ashok Rai after he cleared the Civil Services exams from prison, the Supreme Court on Friday decided not to “interfere” and the Delhi Police promptly waived its right to file an appeal.

Rai, who was sentenced to a life term for raping his tuition student, had won HC’s confidence after he cracked the UPSC. A Division Bench led by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog had on February 9, 2009, said his performance in the Civil Services exam was a sure sign that he had “redeemed himself”. Rai was released immediately from prison. He had, at the time, undergone just five-and-a-half years of his life sentence. His 25-year-old student ended her life in April 2003, leaving behind a suicide note explaining her relationship with him.

Considering that he had not even completed the minimum imprisonment of seven years for rape, the decision was challenged by the National Commission for Women (NCW) in the Supreme Court, which admitted the plea and issued notices to the Delhi Police.

Today, a Bench of Justices HS Bedi and C K Prasad went against the norm to dismiss the NCW appeal, forgoing the fact that it was already admitted and the notices served.

The Bench reasoned that the NCW had no right or locus standi as a “third party” to move an appeal in a criminal case. The apex court, however, slammed the HC for reducing Rai’s sentence just because he became the IAS. The Delhi Police, represented by Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, declined to file an appeal against the HC verdict.

“What about the life of the girl? Should every man sitting for IAS be acquitted even if he violates the dignity of a woman?” NCW’s counsel Priya Hingorani asked the court.

“When State has not filed appeal, NCW can't challenge release of rape convict”

“When State has not filed appeal, NCW can't challenge release of rape convict”

Supreme Court dismisses plea against Delhi High Court verdict

The Supreme has declined to interfere with the Delhi High Court judgment which reduced the life sentence awarded to an accused for rape and murder to five-and-a-half year imprisonment, already undergone, as he cleared the civil services examination.

Acting on an appeal from the National Commission for Women challenging the February 9, 2009 judgment, the Supreme Court in April last issued notice to the Delhi government and Ashok Rai, who was convicted of raping his 21-year-old student, who committed suicide after the incident. The NCW opposed the reasons given by the High Court for reducing the sentence and setting him at liberty.

The High Court held that Ashok Rai redeemed himself in jail as was evidenced by his taking the civil service examinations and qualifying himself for being appointed to the IAS.

“We are of the opinion that the sentence already suffered by him would meet the ends of justice as a required punishment,” it said while upholding the rape charge.

The NCW said that when the minimum punishment itself was seven years for rape, the court ought not to have released him and its observations would cause problems to the lower courts.

During the resumed hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday, a Bench of Justices H.S. Bedi and C.K. Prasad wanted to know from Additional Solicitor- General Mohan Parasaran, appearing for the Delhi government, whether the State had preferred any appeal. Mr. Mohan said no appeal had been filed, nor was there any proposal to do so.

Pointing out that the NCW, being a third party, had no locus to prosecute the appeal when the State had not preferred to do so, the Bench dismissed the appeal against the impugned judgment.

Need for proactive steps: NCW

Reacting to the Supreme Court order, the NCW said it preferred a special leave petition as it was concerned at the implications of the High Court judgment.

In a statement, the NCW noted with concern that though the State of Delhi filed an affidavit stating it supported the commission's petition, no appeal had been filed.

“The matter is being taken up by the NCW with the Delhi government. The NCW found it necessary to act proactively in this matter.” For, in the absence of any appeal in this matter, a grave miscarriage of justice could occur, the statement said.