MYSURU, India — The Supreme Court of India has intervened in the case of a regional lawmaker suspected of trying to kill a woman who accused him of rape, ordering police protection for the woman and moving the rape trial out of the state where he wields political power.
The lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, has been jailed since last year on charges of rape and kidnapping. He is accused of attacking the woman in 2017, when she was 17, after luring her to his home with the promise of a job interview.
The police now suspect him of arranging, from behind bars, a car crash on Sunday that left the woman in critical condition and killed two aunts who were in the car with her when a truck struck it head-on.
The woman has said that Mr. Sengar, a political boss in the state of Uttar Pradesh, repeatedly threatened to kill members of her family if they did not stay quiet about the rape allegations. Her father was beaten to death last year after speaking out about the case.
The case, in all its twists and troubling turns, has set off a wave of national dismay in India reminiscent of the outrage that followed the gang-rape and murder of a woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012.
Lawmakers have stormed out of Parliament. Television news programs have been filled with pundits shouting at each other. And countless Indians have been shocked and demoralized by the possibility that a lawmaker would be so bold as to commit such crimes.
Mr. Sengar, who is believed to be in his early 50s, has denied raping the woman, and he could not be reached for comment about the more recent accusations. The driver of the truck in the Sunday collision is also under investigation, as are more than 20 other people, according to the police.
Mr. Sengar, who until this week was a member of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, had been serving a fourth term in the state assembly for Uttar Pradesh when he was jailed. He still counts many supporters, especially in his hometown, Unnao.
On Friday, the Supreme Court held a hearing on the young woman’s medical condition, offering to help her family move her from a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, to New Delhi. Family members said they wanted to wait until her condition improved.
“She is still on a ventilator and still unconscious,” said Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, who has visited the woman in the hospital. “She is in a life-threatening situation. She is extremely critical.”
On Thursday, the Supreme Court — widely seen as a progressive counterweight to India’s often rough-and-tumble politics — ordered that all trials connected to Mr. Sengar’s rape case be moved out of Uttar Pradesh, where he and his family remain influential, to New Delhi.
The court also ordered federal police officers to protect the young woman and her lawyer, who was also seriously injured in the collision. It said that the rape trial must be completed within 45 days, and that federal investigators must conclude their inquiry into the truck crash within the next week. The court has also ordered Indian news outlets not to report the woman’s name.
Beyond being named as a suspect in the Sunday collision, Mr. Sengar is also suspected of being part of a criminal conspiracy that led to the beating death of the young woman’s father last year. The police say Mr. Sengar’s brother carried it out.
Suraj Hegde, a spokesman for the Indian National Congress, an opposition party, has accused Mr. Sengar and his allies in the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to subvert “the whole judicial system.” He called them a “new syndicated organization” and said that if the courts had moved faster to hear the woman’s case, “so many deaths would not have happened.”
Top officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suspended Mr. Sengar last year but had been reluctant to expel him. On Thursday, however, they did exactly that.
“The party does not want to have any type of association with him,” said Himanshu Dubey, a party spokesman.