'What prevented you from filing charge sheet without delay?': Delhi court pulls up CBI's handling of Unnao rape case

New Delhi: A Delhi court pulled up CBI on Monday for delay in filing the charge sheet in Unnao rape case and for the absence of women officers during the probe without bothering about "harassment, anguish and re-victimisation that occur for a victim of sexual assault".

It also expressed displeasure over the agency leaking selectively vital information relating to the statement of the survivor to put a cloud over her case.

"According to law there should be female officers in CBI to record statement of victims in such cases but surprisingly the girl was called many times to CBI office instead of going to her residence," the court said.

Investigation in such cases has to be conducted by a woman officer as mandated under Section 24 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, but the successive statements of the victim girl had been recorded by calling her to the CBI office "without bothering for the kind of harassment, anguish and re-victimisation that occurs for a victim of sexual assault in such case", it noted.

District Judge Dharmesh Sharma said CBI has not explained the fact that when almost entire investigation had been completed by the end of July 2018, what prevented the CBI from filing the charge sheet on October 3, 2019.

The judge also expressed displeasure that vital information concerning witnesses' statement was selectively leaked as an attempt to put a cloud over the case of the survivor.

He said: "When the investigation in the alleged kidnapping, illegal confinement and gang rape of the victim girl had been taken over by them (CBI) on April 13, 2018 and it is also clear from the police report that almost entire investigation had been completed by the end of July 2018, what prevented the CBI from filing the charge sheet without any further delay and it was belatedly on October 3, 2019 after almost a year.

"And I also find from the spate of applications moved on behalf of the accused person that vital information concerning statements or version of witnesses and appears to have been selectively leaked thereby attempting to put a cloud over the case of the complainant, coupled with non examination of the huge data retrieved from the two mobile phones."

The apex court, taking cognisance of the rape survivor's letter written to then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had on August 1 transferred all five cases registered in connection with the Unnao rape incident from a Lucknow court in Uttar Pradesh to the court in Delhi with directions to hold trial on a day-to-day basis, completing it within 45 days.

The case was heard from August 5.

However, the Supreme Court had on September 6 further extended the deadline on the request of the District Judge with liberty to seek more extension.

The court had on August 9 framed charges against the MLA and Singh under Sections 120 b (criminal conspiracy), 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel for marriage), 376 (rape) and other relevant sections of the POCSO Act.

A special court was also held at AIIMS hospital from September 11 to 13 to record the statement of the rape survivor, who was admitted there after she was air-lifted from a hospital in Lucknow following the car crash.

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Free Press Journal