Lucknow: Despite being assigned to a fast track court, the hearing into the decade-old Ashiana gang rape case could not progress for the second week in a row, thanks to an ongoing lawyers’ strike in Lucknow. The case pertains to the alleged brutal gang rape of a minor girl by a group of six boys in 2005.
The case, which has dragged on for 10 years, was recently transferred to a fast track court, giving a ray of hope to the survivor, who was only 13 years old when the alleged incident took place. But the fast track court has been unable to progress with the case.
The main accused, Gaurav Shukla, is still free. He is a nephew of a Samajwadi Party leader and former Member of Legislative Council (MLC), Arun Shukla. While three of the six accused were convicted, two others have died since. But Gaurav Shukla has remained free, as he has been claiming to have been a juvenile at the time of the incident.
Twice, the juvenile board has declared him not juvenile. But both times, the accused appealed against the same. Currently, his second appeal is pending.
Speaking to NDTV, one of the first lawyers of the accused, Shishir Chandra, said, “The family of Gaurav Shukla had approached me saying they were being falsely implicated by the media. It was the initial stage of the case. There was no evidence, so I approached the court for a stay order on his arrest.”
It is on the basis of this very order that the accused has not been arrested for 10 years. Soon after, Mr Chandra dropped out of the case when new evidence about the brutal nature of the crime emerged.
The next hearing of the case is scheduled for January 24th. The lawyers in the state capital are agitating for increased territorial jurisdiction of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, by including Moradabad, Bareilly and Kanpur divisions.