In a first, three law students of a private university in Haryana were convicted on the basis of detailed and explicit Whatsapp chat with a rape victim. According to a report by Hindustan Times, the three accused Hardik Sikri, Karan Chhabra and Vikas Garg are students of OP Jindal Global University.

Hardik Sikri, the main accused and his friend Karan Chhabra were sentenced on May 24 for 20 years each for gangraping and blackmailing one of their junior management students for about two years. The third accused Vikas Garg was handled a Seven-year jail term.

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“The WhatsApp chats running into pages is so abusive and vulgar that the extracts of the same cannot be explained and put into the judgment and what only can be concluded through the WhatsApp chat is that the prosecutrix (victim) was totally under control and dominance of the accused, Hardik,” additional sessions judge (ASJ) Sunita Grover said in her judgment.

All the three convicts are from Delhi and are in jail since April 2015 when the girl accused the three final year law students of raping her from the time she joined the University in August 2013. Hardik had circulated the victim’s nude pictures among his friends through Whatsapp. He had also stored the pics in I-cloud, the cloud storage space of Apple and had also threatened to circulate her obscene images.

Sikri also forced her to purchase and use a sex toy in front of him through Skype, the video messaging service. Judges also found through the chat that he had forced the victim to travel with him to Chandigarh to have sex with him.

The judge also said that Hardik also kept the victim under stress and kept asking her to share more nude pictures with him.

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The judge rejected the defence argument that the girl was a consensual partner as she had admitted having consumed drugs and had volunteered to purchase beer on their Chandigarh trip.The judge disagreed with the defence lawyer’s arguments by saying a rape victim can’t be viewed as an accomplice.The judge referred to the conversations and said the convicts were in a dominating position because they were her seniors and the victim was in a vulnerable state.

Prashant, the victim’s legal advisor told Ht,“The court accepted the evidence because it was original and taken from the girl’s cellphone directly”. He also told that this is probably the first case of its kind where electronic data has been used as a proof.

With the increasing number of cyber crimes, this is really a welcome decision and can certainly set a benchmark of advanced jurisdictional decisions.

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