A teenage rape case that has rocked India will be examined by the country’s top court, the chief justice said yesterday, days after the alleged victim was critically hurt in a suspicious car crash.
The 19-year-old is fighting for her life in hospital after the car she was in was smashed by a truck on Sunday, killing two of her aunts and severely injuring her lawyer.
It was the latest tragedy to befall her family since she accused lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of raping her at his home in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
In the latest twist to the case, the girl’s family wrote a letter to the chief justice of India two weeks ago alleging threats against their lives.
But Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the first time he had heard about the letter was via the media, as he called for it to be handed to him.
“The letter has not been placed before me and newspapers flashed yesterday that the CJI did not act,” he said.
Gogoi also asked on a status report on the case, and is expected to look into the matter further today, he added.
“We (will) try to do something constructive in the midst of this highly destructive volatile environment,” Gogoi said in court.
The family’s letter said Sengar’s relatives and associates had twice threatened grave consequences in July if they pursued the matter.
The revelations have highlighted the sluggish nature of India’s justice system, particularly in Uttar Pradesh.
Police in the notoriously lawless state initially refused to take action after the girl launched a rape claim against Sanger.
Her father was detained by police and severely beaten in custody – allegedly by Sengar’s brother – and later died from his injuries.
She also tried to set herself on fire outside the home of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hardline BJP stalwart.
After the crash, the girl’s family accused Sengar of ordering the highway hit to stop the rape case from going to trial.
The rape case and the car crash are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, amid fears the Uttar Pradesh police may be influenced by the lawmaker.
The CBI has filed a case charging Sengar and nine others, including the relative of an Uttar Pradesh minister, with murder over the road crash.
The agency has also registered a case against 20 other unknown persons.
They are all residents of Unnao.
One of the accused Arun Singh, the son-in-law of Uttar Pradesh Minister Ranvendra Pratap Singh.
The case has been an embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, which is in power in the state and nationally.
Sengar was arrested in April last year but reports say the four-term legislator still enjoys considerable clout.
He has denied the accusation of rape and any involvement in the car crash that has brought the case back into the public spotlight.
A lawyer for Sengar declined to comment on news of the Supreme Court move.