A special court order dated March 2, 2023 acquitted three of the four accused in the September 2020 Hathras gang rape case and convicted the main accused under charges of culpable homicide (without the intent of murder). The 167-page court order expunged all arguments made by the complainant's lawyer, alleges Seema Kushwaha, the victim's lawyer. Kushwaha also adds that despite it being mandatory by law to take into account the arguments of the victim's lawyer in a case of the SC/ST Act, the court had ruled it out.
Neither of the four accused was found guilty of offence of gangrape or murder by the special court.
"It has been all planned since day one. How can there be so much delay in medical investigations," her family demands answers. The 19-year-old girl was first taken to the Chandpa police station by the family, who was then sent to the hospital on 14 September 2020. No forensic investigation was conducted till September 22, 2020.
Bhulgarhi village in Hathras District is convinced that the episode was a love story gone wrong and associates it with a history of a family feud. "Wo parivar to khatam bhay gayo, ja parivar ki to mauj hai," (The accused families are over, but the victim's families are enjoying) says one Narendra Pratap Sisodia. Another teenage girl from the village blames the Dalit family for tainting Bhulgarhi's image and demands that its dignity must be restored.
The court statement signed by Justice Trilok Pal Singh sentenced Sandeep Sisodia alias Chandu to life imprisonment under Section 304 (1) of the IPC along with Section 3 (2) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. A fine of Rs.50,000 was imposed upon him. All charges under Section 376, 376, 376D, 302 IPC, and 3(2) (v) of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were dropped against Ravi alias Ravindra, Ramu alias Ram Kumar and Lavkush.
Special Judge Trilok Pal Singh noted in his order that since the girl was in a condition to continue to talk for eight days after the incident, prime accused Sandeep can't be said to have the intent to kill her, therefore not liable to section 302 (Murder), but to 304.
"A human life was lost but justice was denied. Who shall be trusted if all hopes are lost in the court of law," says the younger brother of the "alleged" Hathras gang rape victim. The family criticizes the government and law on the handling of their daughter's rape case, who succumbed to her injuries on September 29, 2020; eight days after she was found naked and wounded in the fields in her village.
The Uttar Pradesh court also stated that since the case was afflicted with political undertones, there is a possibility that the victim's recorded statements were tutored to her by her family or visitors. The victim's family continues to have faith in people's consciousness as they say when the judgment will hit headlines, the world will find out how justice was meted to a Dalit family.
The politics and governance today work by suppressing anyone and everyone standing up for truth and challenging the status quo. Speaking with Outlook, the two brothers say, "Be it anyone, the media, if they highlight the truth they will be raided. It's better to strangle us to death, or poison us..nobody would be left to speak for what is true.."