Nepal | July 14, 2020

SC convicts two rape accused, overturning appellate court verdict

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The full text of the November 18 Supreme Court verdict on the Pooja Bohara (name changed) rape case maintains that the rape of a person not only metes out mental trauma to the victim but also causes severe harm to his/ her self-esteem.

The full text released by the apex court said that the heinous crime of rape leads the victim to a state of long-lasting emotional distress.

“Such victims usually suffer from Rape Trauma Syndrome and hence a court should consider it seriously while delivering justice,” the full text reads. On November 18, the SC had sentenced Sagar Bhatta and Amar Raj Awasthi each to 11 years and six months in prison for raping Bohara.

A division bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Hari Prasad Phuyal had convicted the duo, overturning the Mahendranagar Appellate Court’s acquittal. The convicts, who spent two years in jail during trial, were released after being acquitted by the appellate court.

The bench comprising Malla and Phuyal also ordered the convicts to pay compensation of Rs 250,000 each to the victim, in addition to Rs 500,000 in relief on behalf of the Government of Nepal, considering the gravity of the case.

The two convicts had raped the victim on 12 March 2012 in a far western hill district while SLC exams were on. She was so traumatised by the incident that she could not appear for the remaining SLC exams. She is a fourth year LLB student now.

“When a woman complains of rape, it is not the physical part of the woman which is directly the focus of attention. It is offence against the bodily integrity of the woman as a person, which is the offence in question.

While considering the imposition of appropriate punishment, courts should not only keep in view the rights of the criminal but also the rights of the victim and society at large,” the full text says.

The SC also said that the victim’s body itself was the scene of crime in cases of rape.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 5, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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