Three law students of a private university were convicted by a trial court in Haryana’s Sonepat for gangraping and harassing a junior management student for nearly two years.However, what makes this sentencing unique is that the court accepted electronic data (WhatsApp conversations between victim and convicts) as an evidence to nail the accused, perhaps one of the its first kind in India.The sentence was awarded on May-24. However, the documents of the verdict was made available on June 5. The Court sentenced main accused Hardik Sikri and his friend Karan Chhabra of OP Jindal Global University for 20 years for gangraping and blackmailing the girl while the third accused Vikas Garg was handed a seven-year jail term.
The WhatsApp conversations between convicts and accused were so detailed and explicit that the trial court judge refused to include in the judgement copy. Pronouncing the judgement, additional sessions judge (ASJ) Sunita Grover said, “The WhatsApp chats running into pages is so abusive and vulgar that the extracts of the same cannot be explained and put into the judgment and what only can be concluded through the WhatsApp chat is that the prosecutrix (victim) was totally under control and dominance of the accused, Hardik.” The victim had accused the trio, all final year students, of raping her from the time she joined the university in August 2013, The Hindustan Times reported
Main accused Hardik was also found guilty of circulating obscene material. He had circulated the nude images of the victim among his friends. He had also stored the pictures of the victim on Apple’s I-cloud and threatedned to make them public, if she refuse to give him sexual favours.
The judge observed that the the victim was under “stress” and “duress” to keep sharing more nude pictures with the main accused. The rape survivor was also forced to purchase and use sex toy so that he could watch her via Skype. Notedly, the trio, all from Delhi, have been in prison since April 2015.
The Court treated the electronic data as documentary evidence which also said that Sikri had forced the victim togtravel with him to Chandigarh for having sex. Dismissing the defence argument that the girl was a consensual partner as he she had consumed drugs and volunteered to buy beer during Chandigarh visit, the Court said that the accused were in a dominating position because they were her seniors and the victim was in a vulneerabe state.