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The safety of a woman is valid grounds for the transfer of a criminal case: High Court of Uttarakhand

It is a widely accepted legal maxim that justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done. In any case where hearing of a criminal case at a particular court would compromise of the safety or security of a woman, it would be unacceptable and in violation of the above maxim. This was covered in a judgement passed by the single member bench of the High Court of Uttarakhand consisting of Jusitce Alok Kumar Varma in the case of Shilpi Lawrence Elenjikal v the State of Uttarakhand and another [Transfer Application no: 2 of 2021] on the 28th of May 2021.

A transfer application was filed by the applicant Ms Shilpi Lawrence Elenjikal seeking for the transfer of State vs. Parikshit Arvind Joshi [Criminal Case No.1185 of 2019] which is pending before the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kotdwar, District Pauri Garhwal to Chief Judicial Magistrate, Udham Singh Nagar. The applicant contended that she apprehends a threat to her life and fears prejudice in the conducting of her case in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kotdwar, District Pauri Garhwal and hence pleaded for the case to be transferred under Section 407 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The applicant also brought to the notice of the court that the honourable Supreme Court on 29th November 2019 had directed the respondent no:2 refrain from attempting any contact with the applicant and had on 23rd November 2020 called for the transfer of Sessions Trial no: 21 of 2019 from court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Haridwar to the court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Udham Singh Nagar.

Under these circumstances the High Court of Uttarkhand declared that justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done and understood that the applicant’s apprehension was very valid and reasonable. The case of Sesamma Phillip vs. P. Phillip, (1973) 1 SCC 405 was also cited, where the honourable Supreme Court transferred a criminal case on the grounds of safety of the woman petitioner. Justice Alok Kumar Varma passed the judgement that “the transfer application No.2 of 2021 is allowed and Criminal Case No.1185 of 2019, State vs. Parikshit Arvind Joshi, which is pending before the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kotdwar, District Pauri Garhwal is transferred to the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Udham Singh Nagar”.

Click here for the judgement

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