September 22, 2017
Two accused were sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment as they were found guilty of Gangrape and other criminal offences.
Punjab and Haryana High Court has suspended the sentences of 3 former law students convicted of gangrape & blackmail while concluding that the victim’s statement reveals a story of “misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude & a voyeuristic mind.”
The HC, which was approached by the 3 men for bail also placed conditions on them during the pendency of their appeal in a lower court against their conviction.
Stating that the victim’s narrative “doesn’t throw up gut-wrenching violence that normally precede or accompany such incidents”, the bench said “The testimony of victim does offer an alternate story of casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism & experimentation in sexual encounters & these factors therefore would, offer a compelling reasons to consider the prayer for suspension of sentence.”
Division bench of Justices Mahesh Grover & Raj Shekhar Attri, also ordered a compensation of ₹10 lakh for the victim, with the amount to be borne equally by the 3 convicts.
It further said “We’re conscious of the fact that allegations of the victim regarding her being threatened into submission & blackmail lends sufficient diabolism to the offence but a careful examination of her statement again offers an alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude & voyeuristic mind.”
While ordering for counselling to be provided to the 3 men by a psychiatrist of AIIMS in Delhi, the HC said it’s essential “to balance the concerns of the victim; demands of the society & law & the element of reformatory & rehabilitative justice” while deciding this matter.
“It’d be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for a long period which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves & be a part of the society as normal beings. Long incarceration at this stage when the appeal isn’t likely to mature for some time is likely to result in an irreparable damage,” the bench said.
The Bench in the concluding remarks of its judgment passed last week said “Nothing said above should be construed to be an expression on the merits of the case.”
This case dates back to 2015 when an 18 years old management student at Sonepat’s O P Jindal Global University had approached university administration alleging that her former friend Hardik Sikri had been blackmailing her for one and half year over some of her nude photos & had forced her to have sexual relationships with him & his 2 friends Vikas Garg & Karan Chhabra.
The accused were convicted by a lower court in Sonepat in March this year. Hardik & Karan were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment & found guilty of gangrape + other criminal offences. Vikas was sentenced to 7 years in jail for rape.
The 3 were also convicted under Section 67A of The Information Technology Act, 2000; which provides for punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit acts in electronic form.
In its 14-page judgment, the HC said, “ …nefarious world of youngsters unable to comprehend the worth of a relationship based on respect & understanding. The entire crass sequence actually is reflective of a degenerative mindset of the youth breeding denigrating relationships mired in drugs, alcohol, casual sexual escapades and a promiscuous and voyeuristic world.”