MUZAFFARNAGAR: A court on Thursday convicted Imrana's father-in-law for raping her and gave him a prison term of 10 years for the crime that had prompted a Muslim panchayat to direct her to treat her husband as a son, sparking a nation-wide furore.
District and Sessions Judge R D Nimesh pronounced Mohammed guilty for raping 29-year-old Imrana, a resident of Charthawal village in Uttar Pradesh, in a courtroom packed with mediapersons, social activists and community members.
The judge gave 70-year-old Mohammed a 10-year prison term and directed him to pay compensation of Rs 8,000 to Imrana for raping her. On a separate charge of criminal intimidation, Mohammed was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rs 3,000.
Mohammed remained silent through the proceedings and spoke briefly only to say that he was incapable of committing such a crime. His counsel Subash Arora said an appeal would be filed in the Allahabad High Court against the trial court's verdict.
A week after she was raped on June 6, 2005, the panchayat of the Muslim community asked Imrana, the mother of five children, to treat her husband Nur Ilahi as a son and declared their marriage 'haraam' or illegal.
Imrana defied the panchayat's ruling and continued living with her husband.
Leading Islamic seminary Darul-uloom Deoband reportedly decreed that she could no longer live with her husband. But the seminary later denied it had issued any such fatwa.
Mohammed had been in judicial custody since June 16, 2005, three days after he was arrested for the rape.
Despite the panchayat ruling restraining Imrana and Nur Ilahi from staying together, her husband said they staying together. He said, "We neither sought advice nor counsel from Deoband. We have not raised the issue before clerics."
Imrana's advocate Sitaram Verma welcomed the verdict, describing it as a "win for women and society".
But Nur Ilahi also said he was worried about his father Mohammed, who has been in judicial custody for over a year.
After Imrana's case was highlighted by the media and rights groups, the National Commission for Women directed authorities in Muzaffarnagar to take action. The body's Chairperson Girija Vyas asked the Uttar Pradesh government to punish the guilty and sought a report on the incident.
Police registered a case under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC against Mohammed after arresting him. Police also filed a case against him on June 30, 2005 with a medical report and recorded Imrana's statement before a magistrate.
Charges were framed against the accused on December 30, 2005. Six witnesses, including Imrana, her brother Imran, Shashi Gupta, the doctor who gave the medical report and judicial magistrate S K Jaiswal, deposed for the prosecution. One witness, Munna, deposed for the defence.
Defence lawyer Subhash Arora sought Mohammed's acquittal due to lack of evidence and Imrana's purported statement that her father-in-law had been unsuccessful in his attempt to rape her.
Arora argued that Mohammed was falsely implicated in the matter following a property dispute.
The court had turned down Mohammed's bail plea on December 5, 2005.
Chronology of events in Imrana case
June 6, 2005: Ali Mohammed rapes her daughter-in-law Imrana
June 13, 2005: Muslim panchayat declares Imrana's marriage to Nur Ilahi void as she had sex with her fahter-in-law and asks her to treat her husband as her son.
June 13, 2005: Mohammed arrested.
June 16, 2005: Mohammed sent to judicial custody.
June 30, 2005: Police files case against Mohammed along with a medical report. Imrana's statement recorded before a magistrate.
Dec 5, 2005: Court turns down Mohammed's bail plea
Dec 30, 2005: Charges framed against Mohammed.
Oct 19, 2006: Court sentences Mohammed to 10 years in prison for raping Imrana. Gives him three-year term for separate charge of criminal intimidation.