Unnao custodial death case: HC seeks CBI reply on Sengar's appeal against 10-yr jail

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday sought CBI’s reply on disqualified UP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s appeal challenging his conviction and 10-year imprisonment in the custodial death case of the Unnao rape victim's father.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued notice to the CBI and also asked it to respond to Sengar’s application seeking suspension of the sentence till pendency of the appeal.

The high court listed the matter for further hearing on November 10.

Sengar, who was sentenced to the 'remainder of his natural biological life' for raping the minor Unnao girl, was stripped of his membership on February 25 as the lawmaker of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly following his conviction in the case.

The father of the rape victim was arrested at the behest of Sengar under the Arms Act and had died in custody on April 9, 2018 owing to police brutalities in custody.

On March 4, Sengar, his brother and five others were convicted for the death of the victim's father in judicial custody by the trial court which on March 13, sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment.

The trial court had also imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on Sengar.

Sengar, through advocate Kanhaiya Singhal, sought setting aside of the trial court verdict by which he was convicted and sentenced in the case.

In the appeal, he said, “It is imperative for a fair trial that the investigating agency, prosecution and witnesses present the true facts before the court and that the court, in turn, must ensure that a free and fair trial…” It said the trial must not only be fair but also remain free from biases and prejudices. It would not be preposterous to submit that in the instant case neither the justice was done nor seen to be done which has certainly shaken the confidence of the public in the entire justice delivery system.

Sengar claimed this case was an offshoot of a long-drawn political rivalry and deep-seated animosity existing between two political factions.

During the hearing, CBI’s counsel said other appeals arising out of the same FIR are pending before another bench of the high court.

Justice Bakhru said let this appeal be also listed along with other matters pending before another judge on November 10.

The trial court, which did not hold the accused guilty of murder under the IPC, awarded maximum sentence for the offence of culpable homicide, not amounting to murder, to convicts under section 304 of the IPC after holding that there was no intention to kill.

It had said 'no leniency' can be shown for killing a family's 'sole bread earner' and the four daughters and a son of the deceased has lost the protective cover of their father.

Besides ten years in prison for culpable homicide, Sengar, his brother, the then in-charge of Makhi Police Station in Unnao Ashok Singh Bhadauria and then sub-inspector K P Singh, Vineet Mishra, Birendra Singh and Shashi Pratap Singh have been also sentenced for other offences.

They were held guilty for the offences of criminal conspiracy, punishment for false evidence, giving false information respecting an offence committed, causing disappearance of evidence of offence, false charge of offence made with intent to injure, voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint under the IPC and under the Arms Act.

The court had earlier acquitted other accused -- constable Amir Khan, Shailendra Singh, Ram Sharan Singh and Sharadveer Singh -- giving them the benefit of doubt in the custodial death case.

On December 20 last year, Sengar was sentenced to jail for 'remainder of his natural biological life' in a separate case for raping the minor daughter of the deceased in 2017.

According to the CBI, on April 3, 2018, there was an altercation between the rape victim's father and one Shashi Pratap Singh. The charge sheet filed on July 13, 2018, said the victim's father and his co-worker were returning to their village, Makhi, when they asked Shashi for a lift.

Shashi denied them the lift, triggering an altercation among them, the CBI had alleged adding that Shashi called his associates, following which Kuldeep's brother Atul Singh Sengar reached the spot along with others and beat up the woman's father and his co-worker.

The woman's father was subsequently taken to the police station by them where an FIR was lodged against him and he was arrested for allegedly possessing illegal firearms.

The charge sheet had said that all this while, Kuldeep Sengar was in touch with the district police superintendent and Bhadauria. Later, he also spoke to the doctor who examined the rape victim's father.

The case was transferred to Delhi from a trial court in Uttar Pradesh on the directions of the Supreme Court on August 1 last year. PTI SKV SA