August 12, 2021 12:51:27 pm
The Madras High Court Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to arrest all the accused in the 2019 Pollachi sexual assault case and that the probe agency must take an “earnest effort” to commence the trial by the first week of September.
The Court also asked the Coimbatore Mahila court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis and complete it within six months.
Justice M. Dhandapani issued the direction while rejecting the bail plea filed by K. Arulanantham, one of the accused arrested in January, in the case involving allegations of rape, sexual assault and extortion of a number of women from Pollachi.
In February 2019, four men were arrested for allegedly blackmailing, sexually harassing and filming a woman in Pollachi in Tamil Nadu. The case snowballed into a major scandal after local media reported that not just one but a few hundred women were victims of an organised racket of sexual abuse, blackmail and extortion. The case was later transferred to the CBI.
The High Court also asked the state government to ensure that “the protection measures, as envisaged under Clause-7 of the Witness Protection Scheme, is strictly adhered to, so that the identity of the witness would be closely guarded pre-trial and post-trial, so that the safety and security of the victims and witnesses would stand protected.” The identity of the witnesses should be concealed to prevent harm to them either during or post trial, the court said.
The Judge also directed the trial court to conduct in-camera proceedings, whenever necessary.
Justice Dhandapani also directed the state government to initiate appropriate departmental action against the then Superintendent of Police and also the other police personnel, who were involved in divulging the names of the victims and the accused to the media.
Observing the poor state of women’s safety in the country, Justice Dhandapani said, “… the pathetic situation that has unfolded since independence is that the women folk are not able to move out without fear even during the day time as their security and safety are at peril at the hands of anti- social elements, who prey on the women folk to satisfy their lust as is reflected in this case, thereby rendering the independence attained through blood sweating of our freedom fighters an effort in vain.”
“The expeditious and judicious disposal of cases of this nature by the courts alone could infuse a semblance of safety in the minds of the common man that the justice delivery system will step in to fill up the lacunae to not only render speedy justice but also see to it that the persons, who perpetrate heinous crimes are dealt with iron hands”, the court order said.
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