Because there were condoms, sex toys and Viagra in her room, is her rape justified?
She first suffered at the hands of the rapists, then the law.
Location: Jindal Global Law School, Haryana
Accused: Hardik Sikri, Vikas Garg, Karan Chhabra
How did it all begin?
It began like the first day of college for everyone- with meeting new people. The victim met Hardik Sikri on 14th of November, 2013. They sent each other requests on Facebook and soon began hanging out together and became friends.
Somewhere along the time, they gave in to mutual sexual attraction and slept together. But that did not last. The victim opted out of the 'situation' and decided to move on. But that was not to be. As alleged, Hardik took advantage of the trust placed on him. He had nude pictures of the victim, exchanged during the time they were involved. The real ordeal began right after the victim decided to opt out of the relationship.
Hardik then used the nude pictures to blackmail the victim. And apparently he did not stop at that. He even got his two friends, Karan and Vikas to sleep with her. Horrified? There's more.
She was forced to buy a sex toy to pleasure her, book a room in a hotel so that she can be exploited. She did not tell anyone, not even her parents. She was being sexually exploited along with being blackmailed, for two years.
The girl gathered courage. She filed a complaint in April 2015 alleging that since August 2013 a student had blackmailed her into having sexual intercourse with him and that he would leak nude photographs of her if she complained to the authorities.
One month after the complaint to the JGLS sexual harassment cell and the Haryana police, the victim sought transfer of the investigation from the local police to the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI). She had requested it on the ground that the local police investigation was not up to the mark. Senior advocate Indira Jaising had appeared before the Supreme Court for the victim on this plea.
March 24, 2017
Additional District and Sessions Judge Sunita Grover sentenced Hardik Sikri and Karan Chhabra each with 20 years' of imprisonment and Vikas Garg with seven years imprisonment and holding them guilty of blackmailing and gang raping of a student of the same university for about two years.
This statement was then issued by the registrar of YSR Murthy,
"We feel very sad for the victim as well as those students who have been convicted. We have been interacting with their parents from time to time. You cannot gauge their trauma. As many productive years of these students will be lost in prison, we need to draw an important lesson from this incident and reflect on how we can promote a safe environment free of any sexual abuse or harassment. Blackmailing and sharing of private pictures in violation of the laws of the land can have no place in a civilized educational setting such as ours. We need to promote gender sensitivity, awareness and safety on campus.
While we keep circulating the student Code of Conduct, Do's and Don'ts from time to time, it is very important for each student to understand appropriate and inappropriate conduct and also the limits to one's own behavior to prevent such instances from happening again.
Let us work together to ensure that no person becomes victimized in this manner and that any potential perpetrator is stopped in their tracks. Let us create an environment, where every student has the courage to approach various redressal mechanisms and trust them fully.
We make choices all the time. Let us choose actions which will take us closer to our academic or career goals and not do anything which will hamper our progress."
But the matter did not end here. The matter went to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana and it gave its judgment on 13rd September, 2017.
This Division bench which comprised of Justice Mahesh Grover and Justice Raj Shekhar Attri had this to say :
So, it granted bail to all three accused, with statement that read like victim-shaming.
6th November, 2017
The case reaches Supreme Court. Advocate Prashant Mendiratta filed a Special Leave Petition challenging the September 13, 2017, order of a Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court. The petition said the High Court had erred by taking selected passages from the complainant's evidence including the testimony that she bought sex toys, condoms and viagra. The High Court had focused on her being a smoker, and her use of drugs, instead of focusing on the Whatsapp messages sent my Hardik to the victim.
The matter came up for hearing before a Bench of Justices SA Bobde and Mohan M Shantanagoudar.They proceeded to stay the controversial order of High Court that let out the three former law students of OP Jindal Global University. The Court also issued notice to the state government, and granted leave to appeal.
15th February, 2018
The Supreme Court of India on Thursday asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide on the appeals filed by the three accused in the case within the next five months, even as it clarified that two of the three accused would continue to stay in jail.
Ruling on a petition filed by the victim, a bench of justice SA Bobde and justice L Nageshwar Rao said Hardik Sikri and Karan Chabra, the main convicts in the case who were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a trial court in May 2016, will continue to be in jail till their appeal is decided by the high court.
However, the third convict Vikas Garg, who was handed a 7 year jail term, will continue to be out on bail.