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Legal system not friendly for sexual abuse victims; may have to go through “embarrassing moments” in court: Madras HC [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam Biju      01 February, 2024 05:08 PM      0 Comments
Legal system not friendly for sexual abuse victims may have to go through embarrassing moments in court Madras HC

CHENNAI: In order to save the victim, the shame of having to relive her horrific experience at a criminal trial, the Madras High Court used its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to quash all ongoing proceedings in a molestation case. 

While doing so, Justice N Anand Venkatesh made certain pertinent remarks on the plight of sexual abuse victims and the ordeal that they had to go through. The legal system does not seem to be friendly with those victims who came forward to file cases, the judge said. 

“The instant case brings to light the stark reality that is involved in sexual abuse cases. Not many are willing to come to Court and fight for the abuse that they underwent. Even for those who want to fight and establish their right, the system does not seem to be friendly and on the other hand, such victim will have to undergo embarrassing moments in the Court. For having given the complaint, the victim faces double whammy in terms of suffering a sexual abuse and embarrassment in Court which tantamounts to punishing the victim and the accused who has not even been identified, will go scot-free”

The Court was hearing a plea by a victim, who was molested by an unidentified man during her morning walk – she sought to quash the witness summons issued to her. 
The victim had complained to the police and also obtained photos from the CCTV camera that one of the locals had placed. 
Even though the event happened more than five months ago, the police had still not identified the culprit.

The victim, on the other hand, was called to court and was required to wait for her case to be heard from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. The High Court observed that despite her being forced to describe the incident in great detail several times in court, nothing had come of it.

She then decided to drop the case and asked the High Court to quash the witness summons she had been sent.

While going through the factual matrix of the case, the Court noted the following: 
• The police were not able to properly identify neither the accused nor the vehicle he travelled in. 
• The petitioner hadn’t been able to identify the accused. So, if the petitioner undergoes trial, all types of embarrassing questions will be asked her and she would 

have to undergo further mental agony. 

• The so-called eye witnesses who have not identified the accused person, can only speak about the incident and that will only cause further mental agony to the petitioner. 

At the best, what will come out of this case will be the sexual abuse suffered by the petitioner and nothing else, the court highlighted. 

“It is not necessary for a criminal trial to go on just to dabble with an incident involving sexual 4/8 abuse even without identifying an accused. If this is allowed, it is the victim who will actually be embarrassed and vilified and the so-called accused person will go scotfree, since he has not even been identified by any one in this case. No useful purpose will be served in proceeding further with C.C.No.16218 of 2022 and it will make a mockery upon womanhood and unfortunately, it is the petitioner who will be actually punished if the proceedings goes on.”

Noting that “very proceedings will result in a punishment to the petitioner for having raised her voice against sexual abuse underwent by the petitioner…”, the High Court quashed the witness summons as well as all pending proceedings in the case.

 

[Read Order]

 



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