LUCKNOW: The Special MP/ MLA Court of Lucknow on Friday awarded a life sentence to former UP minister Gayatri Prajapati and his two accomplices in a gang rape case and also POCSO Act. The court had convicted the three on Wednesday and had reserved the order which was delivered on here Friday.
Judge Pawan Kumar Rai of special MP/ MLA court also slapped a penalty of Rs 2 lakh each on three convicts -- Gayatri, Ashok Tiwari and Ashish Shukla. The sentence was delivered against the three under sections 376 D and 5G/6 of the POCSO Act.
However, the court had exonerated four other accused, including Rupesh, Vikas Verma, son of a senior PCS officer, Amarendra Singh Pintu and gunner of the former minister Chandrapal in dearth of evidence on Wednesday.
After the sentence, Gayatri Prajapati’s lawyer termed his punishment as "political vendetta". He said that the minister would challenge the court order in Allahabad High Court shortly.
A key minister in the previous Akhilesh Yadav government, Prajapati has been in jail since March 2017 on charges of gang-rape of a woman and sexual harassment of her minor daughter.
While pronouncing the accused guilty, the judge said the prosecution succeeded in proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution had produced as many as 17 witnesses in the case.
The court also directed the commissioner of police, Lucknow, to inquire as to under what circumstances, the rape victim and the witnesses, Ram Singh Rajpoot and Anshu Gaur, changed their statements.
A Chitrakoot-based woman had accused the former minister and his accomplices of rape. She had alleged that he had also attempted to rape her minor daughter.
The FIR was lodged at the Gautampalli police station on February 18, 2017, after the intervention of the Supreme Court hearing the plea of the woman. The woman had claimed that the alleged incident had first taken place in October 2014 and the harassment continued till July 2016. When the accused tried to molest her minor daughter, the woman decided to lodge a complaint.