The Bombay High Court orders the police to withhold the identities of rape victims from chargesheets and orders that only sealed-cover photos be filed.
The investigating agencies and trial courts have been ordered by the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench to make sure that the identify of a rape victim is not revealed, not even in the charge sheet. In the case of Sajjan s/o Hirchand Gusinge v. State of Maharashtra ( Criminal Appeal No. 869 of 2022 ), it was ordered by Justice Vibha Kankanwadi and Justice Abhay S Waghwase that the identity of a rape victim is not made public, not even in the charge sheet.
FACTS OF THE CASE :
According to the complaint, the appellant proposed to the complainant after they connected on social media. He pledged to support her son, marry her, and engage in sexual activity with her. Additionally, he intimidated her and forced her to have an abortion when she fell pregnant. Additionally, in March 2022, he mistreated her in the name of caste despite knowing that she belonged to a Scheduled Cast. According to the complaint, the appellant declined to wed her, claiming that he was unable to wed a woman from a lower caste.
The appeal under Section 14-A(2) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Atrocities Act) was before the court, and it contested the Special Judge’s decision to deny bail on the grounds that it is prohibited by Sections 18 and 18-A.
The appellant was charged with violating Sections 376 of the IPC (penalty for rape), 313, 323, and 506 of the IPC, as well as Section 3 of the Atrocities Act (punishment for atrocities).
The complainant definitely said that she and the appellant began falling in love after she accepted his friend request, the court remarked. Therefore, there is no issue with a caste barrier. There appeared to be no evidence that she got an abortion after being threatened by the appellant.
The victim is depicted in several of the charge sheet’s images, according to the court, and such evidence shouldn’t be put to the charge sheet in plain view. The statement read, “We do not argue that such images should not be taken or gathered, but we expect that those photographs should not be added openly as part of the charge-sheet.”
The charge sheet is handled by numerous people as it travels from the office of the investigating agency to the court, and the identity of the victim is revealed, the court said. “The investigative agency must exercise tact in this situation. The court instructed them to place any such documents they wanted to provide in a sealed envelope together with copies of the charge sheet in order to prevent any disclosure of the victim’s name.
The court remarked that despite numerous judgements from the Apex Court underlining that the victim’s identity should not be revealed in such circumstances, such occurrences continue to occur.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SREYA MARY