Historic Judgement: Gujarat rape case
At 10 am on Friday, people poured into the Sardar Patel shopping centre at Patan which houses the fast-track court trying the Patan rape case.
Some policemen were standing guard outside the complex. A casual conversation with them revealed that the verdict in the gangrape case would be passed at 11 am. The verdict, however, was delivered only at 3 pm.
During the 4-hour-long wait for the start of the final proceedings of the court, Aarti Parmar, wife of the accused Ashwin Parmar, and his father, caused a great deal of commotion outside courtroom.
The two blamed the media for the ‘injustice’ that was being done to Parmar and others accused in the case. Parmar’s wife shouted cuss words at all those involved in the case against her husband, including the 18-year-old Dalit girl student who was gangraped, the media, special public prosecutor Naina Bhatt and the Navsarjan executive director, Manjula Pradeep.
Most family members of the other accused refused to talk to the media. Some of them alleged that the entire case was a ‘conspiracy’, and that Bharti Patel (the Patan PTC teacher who was the whistleblower in the multiple gangrape case), the victim, and Bela Chaudhary were the ‘chief conspirators’.
While a packed courtroom waited for the verdict, at 3 pm a police officer asked media-persons who were already in the courtroom, to leave the court. He said that media-persons could not stay in the courtroom as it was an in-camera hearing.
The media-persons, however, argued that there was going to be no in-camera hearing and that the court was going to deliver the verdict in the case that day. After a brief argument, the journalists prevailed over the police officer and were allowed to watch the proceedings.
The proceedings began just after 3:00 pm. Fast-track court judge SC Shrivastav pronounced the accused guilty and gave both sides some time to submit their arguments in the case.
During her submission, special public prosecutor Naina Bhatt, said, “A woman’s silence is not a sign of stupidity, but it is her weapon, the weapon of truth.” Defence lawyers argued that as the accused belonged to the noble profession of teaching and had taught many students, their sentences should be reduced.
Bhatt recited the traditional mantra for the Guru and said that the relationship between a student and her teacher was held in high esteem till the Patan incident. “But the heinous crime of the accused had maligned the teaching profession. They should, therefore, be given a harsh punishment,” she said.
Judge Shrivastav then adjourned the court till 4:45 pm.
The relatives of the accusedsaid the accused were ready to take a narco-test to prove their innocence. “They were not given a fair chance to defend themselves,” a relative said. “Even now, if they get the media’s support, the accused would like to take the narco-test.”
When the court reassembled for the verdict, the judge sentenced the accused to life imprisonment. On hearing the sentence, the relatives of the accused broke down and started weeping. Kiran Patel’s wife refused to leave the campus without him.
Kiran Patel’s advocate Bharat Barot said, “The sentence is too harsh. We will certainly move the Gujarat high court against the verdict.”
Filed under: dalit atrocity | 1 Comment