The National Human Rights Commission has found 16 women, prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by the State police personnel in Chhattisgarh even as it awaits the recorded statement of about 20 other victims. It has issued a notice to the Government of Chhattisgarh, through its Chief Secretary, to show cause why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to them. This includes, Rs. 3 lakh each to eight victims of rape, Rs. 2 lakh each to six victims of sexual assault and Rs. 50,000 each to two victims of physical assault.
The Commission has observed that it is of the view that, prima facie, human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel of the Government of Chhattisgarh for which the State Government is vicariously liable.
The Commission, after careful consideration of the material on record, found that there are in total 34 victims mentioned in FIR Nos. 22/2015, 2/2016 and 3/2016. The material includes copies of statement of victims recorded by the NHRC Team as well as those recorded u/S 164 CrPC in case FIR No. 22/15, FIR No. 2/16 and FIR No. 3/16 in respect of 15 victims, sent by the IGP, Police Headquarters, Raipur vide letter dated 12th November, 2016.
It also found that the grave allegations of physical as well as rape/sexual assault committed by security personnel of Government of Chhattisgarh, made in the FIRs, were reiterated before the NHRC Team, which conducted spot investigation and/or before the Magistrate u/S 164 CrPC or both.
The Commission has also noted the following:- (a) The NHRC Team could record the statements of only 14 victims out of the 34 victims mentioned in the FIRs. Thus, statements of 20 victims are yet to be recorded by the NHRC Team; (b) The statements u/S 164 CrPC have been recorded by the Magistrate only in respect of 15 victims. Thus, statements of 19 more victims are yet to be recorded u/S 164 CrPC; and (c) Almost all the victims in these incidents, covered under the three FIRs, are Tribals. However, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been invoked in any of the cases. As a result of this, the due monetary relief under the SC/ST (PoA) Act has not been paid to the victims.
Therefore, the Commission has directed its DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officials from the Investigation Division and Law Division to record the statements of 15 victims whose statements were not recorded either by the NHRC Team or by the Magistrate u/S 164 CrPC and submit the same to the Commission within one month.
The Additional Director General of Police (CID), Government of Chattisgarh has been directed to get the statements of 19 more victims u/S 164 CrPC recorded before the Magistrate and forward the same to the Commission within one month.
The Additional Director General of Police (CID), Government of Chhattisgarh has also been directed to ensure that SC/ST (PoA) Act is invoked in all the cases the victims belonged to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
The Chief Secretary, Government of Chattisgarh has been directed to ensure that monetary relief, if any, under the SC/ST (PoA) Act is paid to the victims at the earliest.
The Commission has also made it clear that the above directions are of interim nature and a final view will be taken in respect of other victims and also with regard to other issues involved in this matter in due course of time.
It may be recalled that the Commission initiated suo motu proceedings on the basis of news report published in the Indian Express dated 2nd November 2015 under the caption “Bijapur: “Policemen raped women, indulged in loot”. It was reported that women from five villages Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru had alleged that State Police personnel had sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them and gang raped at least two in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. It was also reported that belongings of many villagers were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages.
The news report depicted other brutalities of the security forces also. Pursuant to the notices issued, the Commission was informed that case crime No. 22/2015 u/S 376 (2)(c), 395/354 B/323/294 of IPC and Section 6 of POCSO Act was registered in PS Basaguda on 4th November, 2015 and investigation was in progress.
During the course of this enquiry, Commission received another complaint dated 21st January, 2016 bringing to its notice more incidents of sexual violence by the security personnel against women that took place between 11-14 January, 2016 at Bellam Lendra (Nendra) village, District Bijapur and at Village Kunna, Sukma District and Village Chotegadam, Dantewada District. The Commission sought reports from the State Authorities regarding these incidents also.
Considering the gravity of the allegations and brutality of sexual violence upon hapless women, the matter was considered by the Full Bench of the Commission on the 22nd February, 2016. The Commission, on a careful examination of the material on record, directed a spot investigation by a team of the Investigation Division and Law Division of the Commission.
The NHRC Team submitted its inquiry report which was sent to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Chhattisgarh for their response to the findings and recommendations contained therein. The enquiry report of the Investigation Division, NHRC revealed that FIR No. 2/2016 u/S 294/354 (B)/323 IPC dated 27.1.2016 was registered at PS Kukanar, District Sukma regarding the incident at Village Kunna between 10-12 January, 2016 and FIR No. 3/2016 u/S 376(2)(c), 376 (D), 354,354 (B), 323, 395 IPC was registered at PS Basaguda regarding the incident between 11-13 January, 2016 at Village Nendra, District Bijapur.
The Investigation Team of the Commission recorded statements of several persons including the security personnel and some of the victims. The Team could not however, record the statements of all the victims that were mentioned in the three FIRs in question because of the time constraint, prevailing security situation, non-availability of victims and physical barriers.
National Human Rights Commission