Vadodara LLB student rape case: One accused sent to judicial custody; police affidavit names CA prime suspect

The man, accused of assaulting and raping the victim in an incident that took place at her rental accommodation, had been in police custody for six days after his arrest from Junagadh last week.

A Vadodara local court Wednesday sent the former trustee of the Kalika Mata Temple of Pavagadh to judicial custody after the completion of three days extended remand in a case pertaining to the alleged rape of a 24-year-old LLB student. The man, accused of assaulting and raping the victim in an incident that took place at her rental accommodation, had been in police custody for six days after his arrest from Junagadh last week.

Meanwhile, the prime accused–a city-based chartered accountant–continues to be on the run. Two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) have been formed to find him who has been at large after the FIR was filed on September 19, five days after the alleged assault and rape on September 14.

According to officials of the Vadodara Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), teams have been sent to Rajasthan and UP to look for the CA. The prime accused, who had employed the victim as a trainee for land liasoning in April this year, has also filed for anticipatory bail at a Vadodara court. The order on the bail plea is expected Friday.

Denying the allegations of rape in his bail plea, he has claimed that he was out of town and was travelling to Lucknow between September 1 and 3 when he has been alleged to have visited the rental flat of the survivor and sexually assaulted her. His advocate has produced before the court air tickets from Vadodara to Lucknow and also proof of his stay at a hotel in the city.

Countering his bail plea, DCB Police Inspector VR Kher submitted an affidavit on behalf of the police urging the court to dismiss the petition as he is the “prime accused”. In the affidavit filed Monday, the DCB has stated that the prime accused not only sexually assaulted the survivor after spiking her cold drink during an introductory meeting with the former temple trustee, but also forced her to “forge a physical relationship with potential land investors by asking her to make them happy”. The police have said the CA had been depositing Rs 20,000 towards salary to the victim since April and had also paid the rent of the flat in which she had been living. It is in the same flat that she was sexually assaulted by the two accused on different occasions. The police said they need to investigate whether the prime accused had also been coercing the victim to forge sexual relationships with other investors.

Kher has also stated that the CA had installed a spy camera in the bedroom of the flat and later accessed and shared pictures of the act with a friend of the woman and his own friend to “blackmail and pressurise” her.

The affidavit added that the accused had forced the woman to return to the office and resume her duties after the assault, according to call records accessed by the police. In order to lure the victim to not approach the police, the prime accused also offered the victim the post of CEO and a major share from a land deal involving a company that is in SEBI’s defaulter list, the affidavit stated. The police have said the CA also smashed the victim’s phone in an attempt to threaten her and later purchased a new handset for her. The owner of the shop from where he allegedly purchased the mobile handset is among the 63 witnesses listed in the case so far. Other witnesses include the family members of the prime accused, his employees, the owner of the rented flat, and other panch witnesses.

The police have also told the court that the accused had been evading a police investigation and has been on the run for over two weeks, which is ground to dismiss his anticipatory bail plea so that the case could be probed from all aspects. “During the (former) temple trustee’s interrogation and reconstruction of events in the flat, we found circumstantial evidence to corroborate the victim’s statement that he had assaulted her and vandalised things in the apartment before forcing himself upon her, although in his defence, he maintained that the act was consensual. The victim’s statement is the legal position of the case and she has said she was raped. The accused in custody also admitted that he had forced the victim to indulge in unnatural sex. But he had also been misleading the police saying that he does not know the CA. We will be able to seal the gaps in the narrative only when the CA is arrested, especially about how the arrested and the victim became acquainted,” an officer of the investigating team said.

A total of three accused have been booked in the case so far. The third accused is a city-based businessman, who allegedly helped the former trustee escape and tried to mediate a settlement with the victim following the incident. All the accused have been booked under various sections of the IPC, including sexual harassment, assault or use of criminal force with the intention of disrobing, rape by a relative, guardian or teacher, or a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman, rape by man in a position of control or dominance over a woman, repeatedly raping the same woman, unnatural sex, causing hurt by means of poison, voluntarily causing hurt, criminal intimidation, and crime in presence of abettor.

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