Jharkhand High Court: Ananda Sen, J., slammed police authorities for tainted investigation and laxity in a sexual assault case. While warning the authorities of action for contempt for willfully and deliberately not complying with the Trial Court’s order; the Bench expressed,
“This is really surprising that in a case, which has been registered under POCSO Act and the victim is minor aged about 13 years, why the Investigating Officer has not made the victim as a charge sheet witness. Even the supervising authority has overlooked this fact.”
The instant case was about a minor girl who had been sexually assaulted. The applicant, who was accused of sexually abusing the victim, had highlighted some discrepancies in the investigation. The applicant contended the victim had not been examined in the case nor was she made a charge sheet witness. The applicant urged that in spite of several letters written to the SP and the D.I.G., the victim had not been produced and the applicant had been languishing put in custody for more than three years.
Evidently, a case was registered against the applicant under Section 341, 323 376 & 511 of IPC and Section 8 of the POCSO Act for sexually assaulting a minor girl aged about 13 years.
Expressing wonder over non-inclusion of the victim as a charge sheet witness, the Bench remarked, “This Court fails to understand as to why in an important case the victim has not been made a charge sheet witness.” Further, pursuing the order sheet of the Court below, wherein the Trial Court had directed the SP, DIG and DGP to produce the victim as Court witness, but the same had yielded no response; the Court came down heavily on the department, stating that,
All, the Superintendent of Police, DIG and D.G.P., Jharkhand did not take any action to produce the victim. These facts create doubt in the mind of the Court. Is the police authority taking side of the accused persons by not bringing the victim in the witness box, prima-facie this Court feels so.
Opining that, prima-facie, the authorities concerned could not be said to be bonafide, the Bench expressed,
“The questions are bound to arise if this type of investigation is made, leaving out the main person as witness in the charge sheet. Further, when the court directed to produce the victim, these officers shut their ears and did not even respond to the directions of the court. The letter of a court is not merely a letter.”
Hence, the Bench directed the authority to do what had been mentioned in the letter written by the applicant, since the letter was preceded by judicial order, the officers have committed contempt of court by not responding to those directions. The Bench expressed, “It is high time that this type of attitude should be taken note of and should be rectified. The rectification should come either internally or by external sources by punishing these officers after initiating a proceeding for contempt”. Thus, the DGP, Jharkhand was directed to look into the case and inform the Court by filing a personal affidavit on the following issues:-
- As to why the victim was not made a charge sheet witness.
- Who is responsible for not making the victim as charge sheet witness.
- If till date no responsibility had been fixed, the DGP shall fix the responsibility and furnish information as to what steps have been taken against those persons because of whose laches the victim had not been shown as charge sheet witness.
- Why the Superintendent of Police and DIG had not responded to the directions/letters of the Court which directs the officers to produce the victim as a court witness.
- What steps the DGP himself has taken to ensure production of the victim before the Court below pursuant to the order dated 16-01-2020 and letter dated 27-01-2020, which the court below had address to him for production of the victim.
- What steps DGP intends to take against the erring officials who have not produced the victim before the court so that her evidence could be recorded.
- Why not a contempt proceeding be initiated against the Investigating Officer, Officer-in-charge, the Superintendent of Police, and DIG, for wilfully and deliberately violating the orders of the court wherein the Trial Court had directed them to produce the victim as a witness.
The three week time was granted to the Director-General of Police, Jharkhand for making proper inquiry and verification to comply with the directions.[Anil Kunwar v. State of Jharkhand, B.A. No. 4304 of 2021, decided on 25-06-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Adv. Sudhanshu S. Choudhary
For the State: A.P.P. Nawin Kr. Singh