NO ONE has visited Dilip Kumar Yadav, 30, in the two months since he was sentenced to “life till his last breath” for the rape of an eight-year-old. The conviction, on October 4, by a POCSO court is now being called by the Bihar government as “the shortest trial in the country” under the Act — lasting one day.
Defence counsel Vinit Prakash, appointed by the government after no one from Yadav’s side came forward, says: “I met Dilip twice in jail. He said when his family is not supporting him, he should be left to his fate. Yet, I tried my best to defend him.”
Yadav was convicted for raping the child, a student of Class 2, on July 22. The FIR was lodged a day later. Yadav was arrested within a week. On September 18, a local women’s police station submitted a chargesheet saying police had enough “corroborative” evidence, including medical report proving the girl was raped and her testimony identifying the accused. A DNA test was not performed.
On September 20, charges were framed against Yadav under the IPC and POCSO.
The trial was held on October 4 in a POCSO court, with Yadav appearing over video-conferencing from jail.
The prosecution presented 10 witnesses, including the victim, her parents, her brother who is slightly older, two doctors, an auxiliary nursing midwife, the investigating officer, and two neighbours. All of them were examined and cross-examined the same day. All 10 deposed against Yadav; no one testified in his favour. Apart from sentencing Yadav to life, the court asked the government to pay Rs 2 lakh to the victim.
Last week the Directorate of Prosecution of the Bihar government’s Home Department claimed it was the fastest trial under POCSO Act in the country, and said it had broken the “record” of a verdict in three days set by a court in Madhya Pradesh in 2018.
Says Shyam Lal Yadav, the public prosecutor: “We had a very strong case, with the medical report and blood-stained clothes of the girl conclusively proving she was raped. The girl identified the accused. All the witnesses helped our case.”
He adds that “things moved fast” from the time the trial began at around 9.30 am on October 4. “After all the witnesses were examined and the prosecution and defence offered final arguments, the court delivered the sentence. It was a full-day hearing and the verdict came in the evening (at 5 pm).”
On the “weak case” by Yadav, Shyam Lal says: “His parents turned against him.”
Prakash, the defence lawyer, says he tried to argue that the injuries the girl suffered in her private parts could have occurred when she was defecating in the open amidst bamboo bushes. (A medical report said her hymen was ruptured and there were serious injuries to her private parts.)
Court records show that the defence submitted that the FIR was not clear on where the assault had taken place. In its order, the court quoted that the defence counsel pointed out that “there is a contradiction in the time of incident disclosed by the prosecution… There is contradiction in the statement of the victim made before the learned Magistrate and the court.”
Shyam Lal says “the defence made general statements without any contention”. “It did not specify contradictions.”
Reeta Kumari, the investigating officer, says after the girl identified Yadav, they had little reason to suspect anyone else. “Yadav was arrested within a week. The victim identified him. The accused tried to offer money to the victim’s family to ‘manage’ the case, but did not succeed.”
Shyam Lal says there was no need for a DNA test as the girl had identified Yadav.
Prakash told The Indian Express: “The court did not see any merit in my argument as the prosecution presented evidence to show the rape had taken place at the home of the girl… ”
Prakash adds: “A few more days of trial would have made little difference to my client… None of Dilip’s family turned up… We had a weak case.”
The order of the Special Judge, POCSO Court, Shashi Kant Rai, said: “Undoubtedly, there is a cross-cultural conflict where (the) living law must find (an) answer to new challenges… Protection of society and stamping out of criminal proclivity must be the object of the law, which must be achieved by imposing an appropriate sentence.”
Yadav’s parents, who are daily wagers, say they do not want anything to do with him. Says father Dinesh: “We have cut off all ties with Dilip. He brought us a bad name.”
Yadav, who studied till Class 12, has a younger brother. A neighbour says he was known to be a “lafua (loose)” character.
Bihar has a huge pendency of cases in subordinate courts – 4.70 lakh civil cases as per the latest data, and 28.95 lakh criminal cases.
But the conviction rate under POCSO cases is among the highest in the country.
As of now, there is no plan for an appeal against the court order, Prakash says. “Someone from the convict’s family has to approach the District Legal Services Authority with a request to challenge the POCSO Court order. So far, no one has approached it.”
The eight-year-old’s mother says the verdict has strengthened their faith in justice. “We are thankful to God and the court. We hope she gets over her trauma and resumes school.”