LUCKNOW: A special court in Varanasi, on Saturday, exonerated Bahujan Samaja Party (BSP) MP Atul Rai in the rape case filed by a 24-year-old woman, who, along with her friend, died after committing self-immolation in front of the Supreme Court of India in August last year.
The victim had lodged the case against Rai accusing him of raping her in 2019.
Atul Rai, who won the Lok Sabha election from Ghosi seat of Mau district in 2019, has been languishing in Naini Central jail of Prayagraj for the last three years.
Sharing the details, government counsel Jyoti Shankar Upadhyay said that Additional District and Session Judge Siyaram Chaurasia on Saturday acquitted Atul Rai. The court examined nine prosecution witnesses. Some of them did not fully support the prosecution's theory.
The government counsel added that 15 defence witnesses also deposed before the court.
The victim and her friend's statements, recorded before their death, totally supported the prosecution theory, Upadhyay reminded.
Atul Rai had contested the Parliament election on a BSP ticket from inside jail and won from Ghosi parliamentary constituency.
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The MP will continue to remain in jail even after acquittal in the rape case, Rai's lawyer Anuj Yadav told mediapersons as a case of abetment of the victim's suicide (Section 306) is pending against him in Lucknow.
When contacted, the victim's lawyer Rajesh Yadav said they will file an appeal against the judgment in High Court. "We will not let Atul Rai escape so easily," Yadav said.
As per prosecution, the victim had submitted a police complaint against the MP in 2018 alleging that Rai had been sexually harassing her for nearly a year. She claimed that the first incident occurred in 2018 when she had visited the MP's apartment in Varanasi to meet his family members, including his wife.
The victim, who was a resident of Mau and was pursuing her studies at a university in Varanasi, had also accused Rai of having recorded the sexual assault . She charged that Rai had threatened to circulate it on social media if she reported the issue to the police.
Later, on the basis of a complaint by the victim, a case was lodged against the BSP MP on various charges, including rape and criminal intimidation, in May 2019 in Varanasi.
The Varanasi police also slapped the provisions of the Information and Technology Act against the BSP MP, who surrendered before a court on June 22, 2019. He was then sent to judicial custody by the court.
On August 16 last year, the victim and her 27-year-old friend went live on Facebook narrating their ordeal and immolated themselves in front of the apex court in Delhi. The duo also accused Rai of intimidation and claimed that the harassment had made her choose death. The victim took the name of retired IPS officer Amitabh Thakur claiming that he helped Rai and harassed them.
Later, the Uttar Pradesh Police booked Rai and Thakur, in a case of abetment of suicide at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow. IPS Amitabh Thakur was forced to retire by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in March last year in "public interest".
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