Gau HC | Not in interest of the child; HC stays Sessions Court’s order granting custody of teenage rape victim to relatives of accused  

Gauhati High Court

Gauhati High Court: The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ., and  Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., addressed a suo motu PIL concerning the plight of a rape victim, where the victim was a child between 12-15 years of age.

The incident alleged to had happened in the State of Arunachal Pradesh where a missing report was filed by one Mr Aka Kalung alleging that his domestic help who was a child brought from Nepal, had been missing. The girl was later recovered the next day but as she was reluctant to go to the house of the informant her custody was given to the Child Care Institute, where the victim made allegations of rape and sexual abuse against the informant, stating that he had been abusing her for the last many years.

Meanwhile, on the plea of the father of the victim the Sessions Judge, Tezu, Lohit District, Arunachal Pradesh directed the CCI to hand over the custody of the child to the “local guardian”. This local guardian was none else but the sister-in-law of the accused. The impugned order was challenged in revision before the High Court and the custody was not handed over to the local guardian. Therefore, another application was moved by the father of the child in which further direction was given to hand over the child to the local guardian.

Invoking the doctrine of Parens Patriae, the High Court held that since the local guardian to whom the custody was being handed over was a close related of none else but the accused, it would not serve the interest of justice and definitely it would not be in the best interest of the victim child.

Hence, the order of the Sessions Judge was stayed with the further directions to the lower Courts not to take up any other application where the subject matter relates to the custody of the child. The custody of the Child was granted to CCI. Further, directions were issued to the Deputy Commissioner to conduct an enquiry by personally visiting the CCI and furnish the details with regard to the facilities available in the CCI, including the fact that such an institute was registered or not.

The Superintendent of Police of the concerned district, where the CCI was located was directed to ensure that the child was given every protection in the institute and she should not be allowed to be visited either by the accused or his relative or even by her father till the next date of listing. However, the Bench made an exception of the mother of the child. Who was allowed to visit the child and stay with her.

Observing the sensitivity of the matter, the Bench issued strict directions to the State to depute a team of medical officers, including a lady doctor to conduct medical examination on the victim, only for the determination of her age. The Bench emphasised strictly that the examination shall be limited to a bone ossification test and no other test be done as the victim had already been medically examined.[State of Arunachal Pradesh, In Re., PIL (Suo Moto) No. 5 of 2021, decided on 30-06-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance before the Court by: 

For the Petitioner: U K Nair, Sr. Adv

For the Respondent: A Chandran, Addl. Sr. Ga, Ap

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