India’s Supreme Court on Thursday moved the rape trial of a powerful regional politician to the capital, New Delhi, to allay fears he could influence the outcome, a further embarrassment for the Hindu nationalist ruling party.
The case against Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from northern Uttar Pradesh state who has been accused of rape by a young woman, shot back into prominence after a truck crashed into a car she was traveling in.
The woman is battling for life in hospital, while two relatives were killed in Sunday’s highway collision. Police have registered a case of murder against the lawmaker, following her family’s accusations of intimidation by Sengar’s relatives and associates.
“We further direct that the accident case shall be investigated and completed in seven days,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said after ordering the move from a state court.
He set a 45-day deadline for the rape case, which has made little progress in Uttar Pradesh, to be resolved.
Sengar, the legislator, has denied the allegation of rape and any involvement in the car accident.