27 witnesses, not 1 hostile: less than a year, cop guilty in Marine Drive rape
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In a crowded Mumbai courtroom today, as additional sessions judge K U Chandiwal convicted a former police constable to 12 years' rigorous imprisonment for raping a minor girl at a Marine Drive police chowky, the message couldn't have been clearer: speedy justice can be delivered.
It took less than a year to convict the guilty—the crime was committed on April 21, 2005. And it didn't happen in a fast-track court: a regular sessions court simply fast-tracked proceedings. And above all, it took 27 witnesses standing firmly by their original statements. And those accounts had been given to a police force which effected its biggest turnaround in recent times by keeping secret each of the 27 identities.
Among those whose testimonies clinched the verdict were the victim herself, a 17-year-old college student; a male friend who was accompanying her until minutes before the rape; and that of a Marine Drive building's security guard who had first pointed out the victim and her friend to a supposedly intoxicated More.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters that he had urged the court to give More a life sentence. The state should appeal for a more stringent conviction, Nikam said.
Mumbai Police Commissioner A N Roy said: "Our stand has been vindicated, we have dealt with this case very firmly all along. We expedited the case. We had immediately dismissed More, we carried out an expeditious investigation, the trial has got over in a year. We are waiting for the full judgment. We will go to a higher court and ask for enhancement of the punishment. It should be at least life imprisonment."
As it stands, Sunil Atmaram More, a former constable attached to the Marine Drive police station, will now serve 12 years' rigorous imprisonment and will pay a Rs 26,500 penalty, to be given to the victim. These are the statements which led to the conviction:
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