Jindal varsity gangrape: SC asks Punjab HC to decide appeals in 5 months

Jindal varsity gangrape: SC asks Punjab HC to decide appeals in 5 months

Jindal varsity gangrape: SC asks Punjab HC to decide appeals in 5 months

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to decide within five months the appeals filed by three former law students of O P Jindal Global University against their conviction in the 2015 gang-rape and blackmail of an MBA scholar.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao declined to modify its previous order of November 6, 2017, staying the HC's order of September 13 last.

The HC had suspended the order on varying jail terms awarded to the three accused. The HC had also observed that the girl's testimony offered an "alternate casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism and experimentation in sexual encounters."

After hearing senior counsel Colin Gonsalves on behalf of the victim against the HC's order, the bench said, "We direct the interim orders made earlier would remain in force. We request the HC to decide the appeal as early as possible but not later than five months."

The court directed the counsel of the three accused – Hardik Sikri, Karan Chhabra and Vikas Garg – to be present before the High Court on March 5. The counsel for the accused wanted to argue against incarceration but the bench warned that they would invite adverse observations on merit that might affect their case before the HC.

Blackmail fears

Of the three accused, Garg was granted protection from arrest on January 11. On a plea by his counsel, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, that the accused was earlier granted bail during the trial as well, and that he has been sentenced to a seven-year prison term only, the court continued to maintain the relief granted to him till the pendency of the appeal. The two other accused were sentenced to 20-year imprisonment by a trial court in Sonepat.

Responding to the court's query earlier on sharing the iCloud password with the victim, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, representing accused Sikri, submitted that he did not remember it now as he was in jail for over two years and never used the account in iphone, seized by the investigating agency. The 20-year-old girl had expressed apprehension that the accused could continue to blackmail her  using  objectionable photographs.