As expected, Rathin Nandi put up a strong defence through his lawyer Shyam Joothmalani who had the reputation of turning around the most difficult cases. Joothmalani had seen vengeance in his client’s eyes and this spurred him on.
Judge Rituraj Verma presided over the proceedings and prosecutor Vinod Gaitonde made the opening statement about daughters not being safe at home and argued for life imprisonment for Rathin Nandi for having raped his niece when she was only fourteen.
Joothmalani was all smiles. He was in his element and now it was his turn to deliver his opening salvo. He went all out to establish Rathin Nandi as a God-fearing man and produced several witnesses to testify to his good conduct. He further argued that his client had undertaken the responsibility and borne the expenses of looking after the bedridden wife and daughter of his brother-in-law after the latter’s untimely demise. This in itself was proof of his client’s good character.
On the other hand, the litigant Raima Sengupta was a blackmailer taking advantage of the MeToo movement, like many others. The situation had become so difficult that any man would have to get a woman’s written consent before engaging in sex with her, he added. This remark evoked all round laughter in the courtroom.
Joothmalani beamed from ear to ear; being fond of theatrics, this was exactly the response he had intended. Justice Verma banged the gavel to ensure silence and the lawyer continued.
He alleged that Raima had falsely charged her uncle because he had refused to pay her any further. She was a compulsive fornicator who had seduced her uncle as a minor and extorted money from him thereafter. It was well-known that she was physically promiscuous.
There was an uproar in the courtroom and Natasha rose with her fists clenched in anger. Raima was in tears; something Harry had never witnessed before.
Justice Verma banged his gavel again for Joothmalani to continue.
The lawyer claimed that he had several witnesses to prove that Miss Sengupta was not a woman of righteous character, hence in no position to sue his client for rape. He added that the plaintiff’s house was never occupied as she lived with her lovers all the time.
Harry noticed that Raima’s eyes were bloodshot with anger. He consulted Gaitonde and they decided to issue a subpoena to Rathin’s wife Anuradha.Later, Harry asked Khush to obtain evidence of how Rathin had managed to get into Raima’s car unnoticed. He was apprehensive about Joothmalani falsely establishing that Raima had set a trap for Rathin and recorded the proceedings to prove her point.
Khush called the Ghetto pub and spoke to the gatekeeper Tek Bahadur Thapa, who identified Rathin from his photograph. He added that Rathin had turned nasty on being declined entry. Later, on seeing the two girls emerge from the pub, Rathin had hidden behind their car and sneaked into it as they had driven off.
The proceedings continued the following day. Gaitonde called upon Raima to give her testimony. It was the most crucial part of the case, according to him. Raima was not nervous as she only had to state the facts as they happened. All the same, she asked Harry and her lawyer whether anything she said could go against her.
“As long as what you say cannot be challenged, you will be fine,” advised Harry.
“I am absolutely sure I can handle it without being challenged. The best part of the rouge Rathin is that he is dumb,” replied Raima.
“He’s not dumb, but you are ten times smarter.”
This thrilled Raima and she gave Harry a hug. She then stepped into the witness box and began to speak. She began with the trauma of losing her father Subroto Sengupta in a motorcycle accident when she was three years old. The incident had left her mother in a state of shock. Bedridden, she would stare at the ceiling and not respond to any stimulus, until her death a few years earlier.
All alone, and her toys taken away, Raima was left with the memory of sleeping on her dad’s chest and her mother singing nursery rhymes to put her to bed.
Her maternal aunt took charge of both, mother and daughter. As Raima grew older, she realised that her aunt was physically abused by her jobless husband; a ruthless man who lived off her earnings. Husband and wife would often quarrel. Raima also discovered that her father’s estate was in her uncle’s custody.
Raima turned to studies as a means of diversion. Being at home meant washing and cleaning, which was work. On the other hand, studying was play because she enjoyed it. Being a good student, she won several scholarships, which helped her pursue Architecture and graduate from JJ School of Architecture as a top-ranker. Working her way through the corporate world, she now was Executive Director-Women’s Empowerment at Carson & Tokero, among the most respected engineering firms in the country.
Raima went back to her teenage days. She recalled her uncle making passes at her and touching her inappropriately. Every time she complained to her aunt, he would beat up his wife. Raima prayed for a time when she would be old and strong enough to get even with him. Much to her uncle’s dislike, she developed a friendship with the boy next door.
One day when Raima was alone at home, studying, her uncle entered her room reeking of gin. He rushed at her, boasting that he was much better at kissing than the boy next door. Grabbing her by the arm, he held her tightly against himself. Raima was petrified. She tried frantically to get away from his hold but he was too strong for her. Completely overpowered, she bit his right hand as tightly as she could.
Her uncle yelped in pain and hit Raima hard on the temple with his fist. She went limp and all her resistance vanished. He spat at her lying on the floor. Before she knew it, the sneer turned into a leer. Picking her up, he took her into his bedroom and started stripping her. Raima cried and pleaded with him but to no avail.
“What a smooth skin you have!” he said, all charged up. “Who are you hiding it for? You will love every moment with me.”
Saying so, he quickly unbuttoned himself and went for Raima, squeezing her breasts before losing control. With moans and grunts, he ejaculated and shuddered before his hands went limp. Gripped with a terrible anger, Raima quickly disentangled herself and ran to the toilet, screaming rape.
Shaking with rage, Raima almost collapsed. Natasha rushed to her rescue. The entire court stood up.
To be continued…