A special court on Friday awarded life imprisonment to former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati and two others, Ashok Tiwari and Ashish Shukla, for raping a woman. The court, which hears cases against lawmakers, further imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on each convict. The three convicts were present in court when it pronounced the judgement.
Prajapati was a key figure in the previous Akhilesh Yadav government. He held transport and mining portfolios and was arrested in March 2017. The FIR against Prajapati was registered at the Gautampalli police station on the directions of the Supreme Court. The SC gave the order on the woman's plea against police inaction over her complaint. The former Minister has been in jail since the registration of the FIR.
On Wednesday, Judge PK Rai had held Prajapati and his accomplices guilty of raping the woman and also of attempting to rape her minor daughter. The court held that the prosecution was able to prove the charges against the three beyond any reasonable doubt. The court, however, acquitted four others- Vikas Verma, Roopeshwar, Amrendra Singh, and Chandrapal- citing lack of evidence. The prosecution had produced 17 witnesses in the case.
The court further directed the Lucknow police commissioner to identify the circumstances under which the victim and two witnesses had changed their statements time and again during the trial.
The woman had claimed that the Minister and his accomplices had been raping her since October 2014. She decided to complain against them after they tried to molest and rape her minor daughter in July 2016.