Park Street rape charges on Feb. 19

Charges against the three youths arrested in connection with the Park Street gang rape will be framed on February 19, a city court ruled on Thursday.

Sumit Bajaj, Nishad Khan and Naser Khan were arrested on February 18, 2012, exactly a year and a day before charges will be framed against them.

Charges will not be framed against prime accused Kadir Khan and co-accused Ali, who are absconding. According to the law, police will have to submit a supplementary chargesheet against the duo once they are arrested before charges can be framed against them.

The order to frame charges was issued by additional sessions judge of the third fast-track court of Bankshal court, Madhuchhanda Bose.

The police have charged the arrested trio under IPC Sections 376 (2)(g) (gang rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

"The court will examine if the charges slapped by the police are corroborated by evidence. If the existing charges are upheld, the maximum punishment will be life imprisonment," said a lawyer.

Metro had on January 23 reported that the court had to defer the framing of charges on at least four occasions in the past eight months as the prosecution and the defence sparred over the process.

Sources attached to the case said the defence team had been employing various tactics to push back the framing of charges, without which trial cannot begin.

The judge also announced during the day that she would rule on February 6 on the plea by the alleged victim for a judicial probe to find out how a crucial piece of CCTV footage went missing.

The footage, captured by a CCTV installed near the parking lot of a Park Street hotel, showed the accused and the complainant together, minutes before the alleged crime was said to have occurred.

"We had sought a judicial probe on the disappearance of a part of the footage. We fear the accused, who were at large when the police seized the hard disks, could have tampered with the footage," said Anirban Guha Thakurta, who is representing the complainant.

During the hearing on January 22, the court had wanted the seal on the disks to be broken in the court and the defence provided with a copy of the content.

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