PATNA: Sitting MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav of Bihar’s main Opposition party RJD was on Friday sentenced to life in jail and a fine of Rs 50,000 for raping a minor girl in February 2016. The sentence has prompted the state’s ruling JD(U) and BJP to intensify attacks against RJD.
Judge Parasuram Singh Yadav of a special court for trial of cases against MPs and MLAs also handed jail terms and fines to five other accused who had acted as facilitators in the rape act. The court had pronounced all the six accused in the case guilty on December 15.
The 53-year-old MLA, who represents Nawada Assembly segment and has been in jail since March 2016, was convicted under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of IPC and Sections 4 and 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. He was accused of raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl at his residence in at Pathara English village near Biharsharif on the night of February 6, 2016.
Sulekha Devi and her mother Radha Devi, who had lured the girl to the MLA’s residence and actively facilitated the rape act, were awarded life terms in jail and a fine of Rs 20,000 each. They were convicted under various Sections of IPC, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and the POCSO Act. Two daughters of Sulekha Devi and a son-in-law were handed 10-yar jail terms and a fine of Rs 10,000 each.
“I will move the high court against this faulty judgment. I have faith in the judiciary. I say with total confidence that I committed no rape. The so-called evidence was fabricated as part of a conspiracy to destroy me politically,” said Raj Ballabh Yadav after the sentences were pronounced.
The MLA, who was suspended from RJD after he was booked, is now set to lose his Assembly membership because of the sentences. “This is a judicial matter and a verdict by a trial court. The MLA will appeal in the higher court,” said RJD national vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
Ruling allies JD(U) and BJP attacked RJD leader and de-facto party chief Tejashwi Yadav for his silence on the MLA’s conviction and sentences. “There is no doubt that RJD harbours and promotes criminals. The convicted MLA should have been given the death penalty for the heinous crime,” said BJP leader Prem Ranjan Patel.