- Delhi gangrape: Held guilty, they hope to escape nooseDelhi gangrape: Rusting doors, shattered windows can’t shut out bus nightmareDelhi gangrape: We had to keep changing cars every 15 minutes while taking accused: OfficersGangrape verdict today, 20 of 23 cases in same court ended in acquittals
On Friday afternoon, Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna will sentence the four men he found guilty in the December 16 gangrape case, bringing to an end a fast-track trial closely followed across the country. Of the 23 rape cases Khanna heard this year at the Saket court, this is only the third to result in conviction. In 20 cases, the accused were let off, mainly because the evidence against them was not so strong.
In the December 16 case, which sparked nationwide outrage after a 23-year-old woman was assaulted on board a moving bus and died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital, the police moved quickly. The prosecution put together strong scientific evidence, including multiple DNA evidence, odontology report and earth sampling tools to tilt the scales in their favour.
“We don’t get such strong scientific evidence in other cases,” A T Ansari, public prosecutor in the fast-track court, said as he explained why 20 of the 23 cases decided by the same court had ended in acquittals.
There are examples:
* In July 2011, a hearing-and-speech impaired girl was raped and became pregnant. There was positive DNA evidence against the accused but he was given “the benefit of doubt” after the victim turned hostile in court.
* In July 2012, a school teacher and mother of two was raped, allegedly by her husband’s friend. The accused was acquitted when the woman retracted the statement given to police and said she was under pressure.
* In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman alleged rape by her neighbour. But when the matter came for trial, she did not show up in court. She could not be traced and this led to the acquittal of the accused. There were other instances of the victim being “untraceable” after registration of the FIR. All resulted in acquittals.
* In three cases, the victims refused to identify the accused in court.
According to Ansari, in the absence of scientific proof, the word of the victim is the fulcrum of a rape trial. “But in almost all of these cases, the victim turns hostile... and there are no safeguards to prevent this,”