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A Chhattisgarh court on Monday sentenced a former IAS officer, Manku Ram Sarthi, to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for sexually exploitinga woman government staffer for about eight months.

District and sessions judge of Jashpur, Prabhat Kumar Shastri, also imposed a penalty of Rs.10,000 on the 66- year- old retired officer.

Delivering the judgment in a jam- packed court, the judge held Sarthi guilty of raping a supervisor in the women and child development department, at his official residence on October 16, 2001, while he was the Jashpur district collector. He was also found guilty of misusing his official position and threatening the victim with dire consequences.

Sarthi, who was the Jashpur collector from April 2000 to January 2003, forced the woman to maintain a sexual relationship with him till June 2002. After enduring the exploitation for eight months, she threatened to report the matter to the chief minister, following which she was suspended.

She later reported the matter the police. She also alleged that Sarthi used to often call her to his bungalow on the pretext of some official work but instead talked about her personal life. Though the Chhattisgarh High Court reinstated her, the woman’s fight continued in the district court.

Her brother- in- law, who was present in the court, said though it was a long wait of 10 years, justice was finally delivered. “The court’s decision will have far- reaching implications for those women who work under undue pressure of their superiors,” he said.

After the judgment, Sarthi was sent to jail.

“I will appeal in the high court against the verdict,” he said before being taken away by the police.

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