October 24, 2013 2:13:04 am
Mohali District and Sessions Judge Amarjot Bhatti on Wednesday issued orders for transferring the case of an alleged rape victim from a male judge to a woman judge.
On October 14,the victim had sought transfer of her case to a woman judge citing a clause in Section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which states that rape should be tried as far as practicable by a woman judge.
Now the case has been transferred from the court of Additional Sessions Judge Dilbagh Singh Johal to the court of Additional Sessions Judge Jaswinder Sheemar,where it will come up for a resumed hearing on October 26.
It is arguably for the first time in this region that such a demand has been made by a rape victim invoking the said clause. It was while preparing for an exam that the 29-year-old student of law discovered a sub-section in the CrPC which could enable her to seek transfer of her case. Therefore,she decided to invoke the said clause.
Then on October 17,in a rare scene of courtroom drama,the woman,when asked to record her statement before the judge,stunned not only the opposition party but also her own counsel by refusing to give her statement,moving her transfer application,a petition she prepared and filed herself.
The first thing the judge asked me was whether I had read the CrPC. I immediately replied in the affirmative and read out Section 26 (a)(iii). The opposition lawyers were visibly surprised and asked the prosecutor if such a clause existed, the victim said.
The judge told me that the case cannot be transferred at the present stage. But I knew that under Section 26 of CrPC,it can be. So I told the judge that I was prepared to give a statement,but only after my transfer petition is decided, she said.
As far as I know,this particular clause has never been used before in a petition, said Vivek Sharma,a Supreme Court lawyer. Vinay Jhingan,a public prosecutor in the Chandigarh Sessions Court,said,There was another case where a woman had applied for transfer. But it was on some other ground and was ultimately rejected.
She has been fighting a hard battle because everybody from the family to the police always blames the rape victim instead of the accused,especially in a case of consensual physical relationship because nobody questions the manner in which the consent is taken. Even I blamed her for it initially,but today I am proud of her for her efforts to get justice. She has used her knowledge of law at every step of the case, said the victims father.
The accused,Manish Kumar,a Lance Naik in the Indian Army posted at Pathankot,was booked in April for allegedly maintaining physical relations with the victim on the pretext of marrying her even when he was already married.
H S Hundal,counsel for the accused,said,We have no objection to the case being transferred as we are confident that justice will be served,no matter which court decides the case.
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