Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government has been severely reprimanded by the Allahabad High Court that today ordered the CBI to immediately arrest BJP lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar, accused of rape by a 16-year-old girl last year. The court, which had yesterday posed tough questions to the state, said the approach of the government law officer that the lawmaker could not be arrested at this stage "not only exudes an unpleasant flavour" but raises doubts about the bona fides of top police officers.
The judges also made it clear that they would oversee the probe from now on.
The court noted how the police had not acted on a rape complaint of the 16-year-old girl but rushed to register false cases against her family, and how her father was thrashed "by the brother and goons of Kuldeep Singh" before being arrested "on a petty offence".
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had agreed to transfer the case to the CBI this week in face of mounting pressure to crack down on the powerful Unnao lawmaker. A special team that the government had set up to probe the case was disbanded and the state police refused to arrest the lawmaker, because the case was going to be probed by the CBI.
In the high court yesterday, the state's advocate general Raghavendra Singh had presented a similar argument.
Ordering Kuldeep Singh Sengar's immediate arrest today, the court rejected the contention.
"In our opinion, arrest of the accused in the present case is necessarily required to safeguard the majesty of law and the dignity of the prosecutrix (the girl) and to instil confidence that free and fair investigation shall be undertaken by the Investigating agency," the bench of Chief Justice DB Bhonsale and Justice Suneet Kumar ruled.
"The disturbing feature of the case is that the law and order machinery and the government officials were directly in league and under the influence of Kuldeep Singh," the judges said, criticising the law officer's approach.
All this week, Kuldeep Singh Sengar has strutted around denying the accusation, disparaging the girl and her family and hitting out at the media in the Unnao rape case. During that time, his brother Atul Singh was arrested for a brutal assault on the girl's father, who was not just arrested with severe wounds on his body but who died last week in custody. He "had not been treated properly", a Special Investigation Team has found.
On Wednesday night, Sengar made a dramatic appearance outside the house of the police chief in Lucknow, in a convoy of 20 vehicles. "I have come here because TV channels were saying I will surrender," he appeared to taunt reporters, insisting that he was neither a fugitive nor a rapist.
The BJP lawmaker has been charged under the stringent sexual offences law to protect children and the penal code.
Ahead of the high court ruling, the CBI, which had taken over the probe on Thursday morning, had started questioning Kuldeep Singh Sengar early this morning.
The CBI will investigate three cases filed in Unnao, 50 kilometres from state capital Lucknow.
Of the three First Information Reports or FIRs, the first has Sengar as accused in the rape case. The second FIR is on rioting, in which four locals have been booked, and also the alleged killing of the victim's father in judicial custody. Since the murder charge was added later by the police, it does not reflect in the central probe agency's FIR.
The third case pertains to allegations against the victim's father, who was arrested under the Arms Act and jailed by the local police.