Kathmandu, November 18
The Supreme Court today sentenced Sagar Bhatta and Amar Raj Awasthi each to 11 years and six months in prison for raping Pooja Bohara (name changed).
A division bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Hari Prasad Phuyal had convicted the duo on October 24, overturning Mahendranagar Appellate Court’s acquittal. The bench also ordered the two to pay a compensation of Rs 250,000 each to the victim.
The SC also ordered the government to immediately appoint parole officers in accordance with the provision of the existing law so as to facilitate the provision of compensation to the victim. The court also told the government to ensure that police collected and listed details of perpetrators’ property.
According to Joint Attorney Uddhab Pudasaini, who pleaded on behalf of the government today, 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 rest of SLC exams.
Bohara told THT that the punishment awarded to her perpetrators was not enough as they had ruined her life. “I wanted death penalty against the convicts, but since there is no provision of death penalty in our country, they should at least have been awarded life term,” Bohara, who is a fourth year LLB student, said.
Baitadi District Court had sentenced the two for 13 years each — eight years for committing rape and five years for committing gang rape. Baitadi District Court had also ordered both the perpetrators to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the victim. However, the district court ruling was overturned by Mahendranagar Appellate Court, citing lack of evidence.
According to Pudasaini, the crime scene mentioned in the first information report did not match the details provided by the victim in her statement recorded at the court.
Bohara’s college education and accommodation in Kathmandu is being supported by Lila Dangi, who hails from Dang but lives in New York.
Bohara was initially given shelter by the charity Raksha Nepal, which helps victims of sexual violence.
The two convicts, who spent two years in jail during the trial, were released after they were acquitted by Mahendranagar Appellate Court.
Chairperson of Raksha Nepal Menuka Thapa said, “Victims of sexual violence have to wait till their cases are decided by the last tier of the court. They have to wait for long to claim compensation. Even after the final verdict, victims have to file applications to Judgment Execution Directorate to get compensation,” she added.
A version of this article appears in print on November 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.