The Bombay high court has upheld the life term handed to three men for a 2010 gang rape of a young woman who “innocently took a lift from a man in a car’’ in Pune.
However, it frowned on the trial court judge and public prosecutor for allowing the defense to put unnecessary questions to her involving graphic details during cross-examination.
The trial court judge conducted and concluded the trial with sincere efforts. Though failed in his duty to protect the dignity of the woman, held the HC.
After being convicted in October 2011, the trio appealed to the HC the next year. Turning it down on Tuesday, the HC said the prime accused, Subhash Bhosale, was the autorickshaw union chief of a rickshaw stand. They had bragged about the rape to a friend, which helped nail him.
On April 1, 2010, the well-educated woman, who was new to Pune. She was running late for a seminar and waiting at a bus stand around 4.30 p.m. Bhosale, with another man in the car, drove up and offered a drop, saying they were going the same way.
An accused has the right to cross-examination to prove his innocence. The court under the Evidence Act is duty-bound to forbid any question that appears intended to insult or is offensive. The court is also empowered to forbid questions it considers “indecent or scandalous’’, it pointed out.
She thought it is one of the call center cabbies trying to make a quick buck and got in. The driver stopped at a garage, got his cell phone charged at a shop. He drove for an hour but her destination was not in sight. She was initially calm as she had been told the seminar was about one and a half hours’ journey away. But she started feeling uncomfortable and called and texted a friend expressing suspicions about the driver.
She later called another friend, who spoke to Bhosale and gave him directions. It was 6.30 pm by then, and the woman asked the driver to drop him at the nearest bus stop.
Bhosale agreed but drove on to a highway, where a third man joined them. As she protested, she was slapped, gagged, and threatened with a knife. The trio picked up food, beer and drove to a secluded place. In the secluded spot, the trio took turns to rape her and then dropped her near her house around 12.45 am.
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