NEW DELHI - A city court Saturday sentenced two members of the President’s Bodyguard to life imprisonment in the sensational 2003 Buddha Jayanti Park gang rape case, terming their act a “heinous offence”.
Additional Sessions Judge S.K.Sarvaria awarded life imprisonment to Harpreet Singh and Satender Singh for raping a 17-year-old student of a Delhi University college, while the two other convicts - Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar - were given 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment. A fine of Rs.9,000 was also imposed on Harpreet and Satender while the other two were fined Rs.7,000 each.
All four were found guilty under sections 394 (robbery), 366 (kidnapping) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Harpreet and Satender have also been convicted for gang rape under section 376 (2G) of the IPC.
In his 112 page judgement, Sarvaria said Satender and Harpreet were working in the President’s Bodyguard at Rashtrapati Bhawan and “were at the relevant time given the onerous duty of the security of the president of India, the executive head of the country” but still they committed such a “heinous offence while posted at such a sensitive place”, which calls for “exemplary and deterrent punishment to be imposed.”
“The convicts are posted as the president’s bodyguards and were supposed to be disciplined. The fact that a person in such sensitive place has committed such offence aggravates the circumstances for him on the question of punishment,” the judge maintained.
The victim, who had gone with her friend to the park near Rashtrapati Bhavan on Oct 6, 2003, was raped by Harpreet and Satender while the other two kept watch.
The prosecution examined 25 witnesses to establish the rape charge.
The four first roughed up the girl’s friend and then took her to a secluded place inside the park where they raped her, the prosecution had maintained.
Then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had lost his cool when he get to know about the rape case.
“Kalam, normally so composed, was more angry that I had ever seen him,” writes P.M. Nair, his then secretary, in his book “The Kalam Effect”.
Ranbir Sharma, counsel for Harpreet, expressed displeasure at the verdict and claimed all the evidence was planted and all the recovery of the articles such as the girl’s handkerchief and a doll, that was recovered two days after the incident, were never admitted by the victim.
“We will appeal against this order in the high court at the earliest,” he said.
Maninder Singh, who appeared for Manish said: “He was not at all involved in the case directly. The case was based on the test identification parade (TIP) where the victim failed to identify my client and this is why he was not convicted under rape charges. But we will appeal to the high court in due course of time as he has already spent six years in jail.”