Sonbhadra: Justice in the case of a minor’s rape

Jan 01, 2024
By Kavita Srivastava

The role of Executive Member of PUCL-UP, Vikas Shakya, who was the rape survivor’s advocate.

A sitting BJP MLA Ram Dular Gond from the constituency, Duddhi in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, was convicted in a 2014 case of the rape of a minor. The Additional District and Sessions Court (ADJ) Justice Ehsanullah delivered the judgement on 12 December 2021, convicting Ram Dular Gond under various sections of 376 IPC and POCSO and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC, sentencing the accused to  25 years of rigorous imprisonment along with Rs 10 lakh fine. This goes a long way in reaffirming faith in India’s judiciary.

It established that justice can be obtained from our courts against powerful politicians and legislators of the ruling party. The judgement which came nine years after the FIR was lodged, is also very significant in countering impunity provided to rape accused and countering  rape culture which is on the increase, as indicated by  NCRB data both for UP as well as the country as a whole. 

According to the facts of the case, the brother of the minor rape survivor on 4th November, 2014 filed a complaint in the Myorpur police station of Sonbhadra district, that his sister had been raped for over a year and had become pregnant by the husband of the sitting sarpanch of village panchayat Raspahri. The police investigated the case under sections 376, POCSO and other  IPC sections. The nine-year long journey to seek justice was a difficult path, as the survivor and her family  had to face  constant threats and intimidation by the accused. 

The accused was given a ticket by the BJP in 2022 to contest elections, despite having a rape case against him. It was only with the intervention of the Allahabad HC that the case proceeded in the MLA/ MP court after the accused became an MLA and seemed to  have complete impunity. It is important to know that the MLA was chargesheet by the local police only in January 2023.

The  PUCL State Executive member, Vikas Shakya was the advocate for the complainant, and had to take  on the responsibility of   ensuring safety and security of the survivor. The sitting BJP MLA and his son went to the marital as well as the house of her  in- laws and offered her both financial inducments as well as threatened to get her to change her statement. Ram Dular Gond was convicted for 2 years by the court for the threats the complainant had received. 

According to Vikas Shakya, their role as PUCL is now to work towards ensuring that as per the legal framework, rape convicts such as the BJP MLA are disqualified from their membership in the State assembly. This would be in  compliance  with the SC judgement of 2013 which stated that the incumbent MLA/MP ceases to be an elected representative once he is sentenced to a minimum of two years in jail. The fact that no action has been taken in the case of the BJP MLA stands in sharp contrast to the  promptness with which an SP MLA who was similarly convicted in other criminal cases was disqualified.