Can an absconding accused’s attached property be sold and its proceeds be remitted to the rape victim, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Punjab government in a rape case dating back to 2011 and asked the state to examine the legal position in this regard for court’s assistance.
In the case from Hoshiarpur, the accused Sukhminder Singh’s land — comprising 6 Kanals, 7 Marlas and 7 Sirsai — already stands attached and earlier this year, cultivation on it by his family members was halted following the High Court’s intervention.
The accused allegedly raped a 35-year-old woman in 2011 at a farmhouse while in an intoxicated state. A video of the act, shot by the accused, later forced her into silence and the abuse continued for several months, the petition filed before the HC in 2012 says. The victim had shifted to Chandigarh after delivery of a child which was initially taken away by her family from her. The victim and her child are currently living at a government accommodation in Chandigarh. In 2012, the woman approached the Punjab Legal Services Authority for protection and rehabilitation. Her case is pending in High Court since 2012.
The Chandigarh Police has been investigating the crime after transfer of probe to it by the High Court from Punjab Police. In the order asking Punjab to inform the court regarding the legal position on selling of an absconding accused’s property, the single-judge bench of Justice Rajan Gupta has also pulled up the UT Police for failing to trace the accused and warned to seek personal appearance of a senior police officer, not below the rank of SP .
“This court is not satisfied with the steps taken by UT Police for tracing absconder Sukhminder Singh. The status report which is normally repetitive in nature, has not been opened today and returned to Mr Gupta, learned APP for UT. Mr Gupta prays for more time to seek instructions and apprise the court,” the order reads.