Court slams handing over of rape victim to alleged rapist

HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEWS IS A SHAKTI VAHINI NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK INITIATIVE

JIBBY KATAYAM IN THE HINDU

ACP directed to ensure girl’s presence in court on next hearing

Following the failure of a placement agency owner to produce in court an alleged victim of rape, who was handed over to the man by a magistrate on condition that he would produce her in court when told to do so, a Sessions court in Rohini here, on finding that this man was an accused in another rape case, has directed the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Saraswati Vihar) to ensure the girl’s presence in court on the next date of hearing.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau was slated to record the testimony of the victim when it came to the court’s attention that she had been released on superdari to a placement agency owner, Bhanu Pratap, who had filed the complaint of rape for the victim against her employer at Saraswati Vihar police station. Despite summons being served to Bhanu Pratap, he did not produce the girl on the pretext that she had gone to her native village.

Following the defence counsel submitting before the court that complainant Bhanu Pratap was himself a person with a dubious background having two criminal cases against him, one of which was a rape case, the court took a serious view of the matter, wondering how an alleged victim of rape could be handed over to a person with such a dubious background, and called for a verification report from the SHO, Saraswati Vihar and the ACP concerned.

The report aligned with defence counsel’s submission stated that Bhanu Pratap was involved in two criminal cases registered at Punjabi Bagh police station – one under the Gambling Act in which he was held guilty and the other a rape case in which trial has been pending following framing of charges against him.

“This being the background of the complainant, why is it then that the prosecutrix (a rape victim) was permitted to be handed over to this person? I am shocked to observe that this background of the complainant/superdar being involved in two criminal cases was not within the knowledge of the investigating agency as claimed by the SHO. It goes without saying that the credentials and background of the person to whom the victim of rape is being handed over is of utmost importance.”

Though the SHO had stated that he had opposed the grant of superdari of the girl to Bhanu Pratap in the court of the metropolitan magistrate where proceedings first began and that the victim herself chose to go with Bhanu Pratap rather than her parents, the court was not satisfied.

“The question is why the metropolitan magistrate was not apprised of the criminal background of the superdar and in case, if an order of superdari was passed in Bhanu Pratap’s favour, was it not necessary for the prosecution to have challenged the same, which they have not done till date? In so far as this court is concerned, it is totally unacceptable ,” Dr. Lau said.

Noting the involvement of placement agencies and their role in several human trafficking cases recently, the court said: “This is an aspect which requires to be highlighted to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, so that due care is taken in future to ensure that the antecedents and the criminal background of the complainants and superdars to whom the victims of sexual abuse are handed over, particularly in cases involving placement agencies, are checked and verified before the release of the said victims to them.”

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