The Supreme Court today wondered how the accused, who were in prison during trial in a gangrape case involving a student of a private university in Haryana, were released from jail after they were convicted in the case. The apex court had earlier stayed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order suspending the sentence awarded to three convicts by the trial court in the case. "Law makes us learn new things. This is one of those rare cases where these people (accused) were in custody during the trial and it was only after they were convicted, they were released (from jail)," a bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said. "Prima facie, it is enough for us to look into it," the bench observed. The bench made these observations while hearing a plea filed by one of the accused, who was awarded seven-year jail term by the trial court after being convicted in the case. The trial court had awarded 20-year imprisonment to two other accused after convicting them for various offences under the IPC, including gangrape and criminal conspiracy, and under provisions of the Information Technology Act. However, the high court had suspended their sentences on the basis of the pleas filed by them and granted them bail. The victim then approached the apex court challenging the high court's order of September 13 last year. During the hearing, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for the accused who was awarded 7-year jail term, told the bench that his client's case was different from the other two persons as they were awarded 20-year imprisonment. Luthra said non-bailable warrant (NBW) has been issued against his client pursuant to the apex court's direction staying the high court order. "Why don't you (accused) apply for cancellation of NBW before the trial court? You can appear before the trial court," the bench asked. To this, Luthra said as the high court's order has been stayed, the accused could be taken into custody.
He also clarified that the accused were released from jail before the stay order was passed by the top court. The counsel appearing for the woman alleged that as per reports, the accused were absconding after the apex court had stayed the high court's order. Luthra countered these submission and said his client was not absconding. The counsel representing other accused also rebutted the claims of the woman's lawyer. The top court stayed the execution of NBW issued by the lower court against one of the accused, who has been awarded seven year jail term, till further orders. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on January 18. The woman, who has also challenged the grant of bail to the accused by the high court, had claimed in the FIR that she had taken admission in the private university at Sonepat in August 2013 and got acquainted with one of the accused. She had alleged that the accused, who became a good friend, had raped and forced her to send her obscene pictures and blackmailed her. The woman claimed that the two other accused also raped her at the university campus after which she lodged an FIR in April 2015. After the trial court judgement, the accused had moved the high court seeking bail in the matter during pendency of the appeal. The high court, in its order, had said, "the entire crass sequence actually is reflective of a degenerative mindset of the youth breeding denigrating relationships mired in drugs, alcohol, casual sexual escapades and a promiscuous and voyeuristic world.
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