On May 2, 2005 Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, was jolted by a horrific crime. A young girl of 13 was abducted on her way home and raped by a gang of six first in a moving car and then at a flat. They did the most brutal things to her.
The girl was the daughter of a rag-picker; the boys were the sons of the influential of the city.
It took a fast track court 11 years to finally give a verdict in the case. The main accused, Gaurav Shukla, was found guilty. This Saturday, the court will decide the quantum of punishment. The case was delayed because of Shukla’s argument that he was a minor at the time of the crime – an argument later found invalid.
What happened to the other five accused?
Sep 5, 2007: Aman Bakshi and Bhartendu Mishra are found guilty. Sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Jan 22, 2013: Faizan – sentenced to life imprisonment and Rs.10,000 fine. Two other juvenile accused, Asif Siddiqui and Saurabh Jain, died in road accidents.
What took the court so long for a judgement on Shukla?
The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) had initially declared Shukla a minor. On March 21, 2014 the board declared him a major at the time of crime based on his birth certificate where his birthday is listed as March 14, 1987.
Shukla tried every trick in the book to claim that he was a minor at the time of the crime, including a last ditch effort of a special revision petition filed in the Supreme Court. Though the fast track court had already reserved its judgement in Shukla’s case on February 9, it could not pronounce it due to the review petition.
This Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected Shukla’s petition, paving the way for his conviction. Also, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court had on April 8 directed the fast-track court to deliver the judgment on April 13.
A moment of triumph
The victim, now 24, told reporters that she is happy with the verdict but seeks life imprisonment for Shukla. Through her ordeal and wait for justice, the girl was supported by All India Democratic Women’s Association. The girl, however, pointed at the fact that it takes an unusually long time to get justice in India.
Deepak Gupta / HT Photo
That loopholes in the law allowed a convict to evade appropriate punishment for 11 years validates the girl’s point.
What next for the convict?
He can appeal against the trail court verdict in a higher court.