Three Mumbai Police officers will face criminal trial for allegedly coercing a minor gangrape victim to marry her rapist in 2013, after a special court on Wednesday allowed an application filed by the victim’s father to name the policemen as accused in the case.
Special Judge Madhuri H More allowed the application and directed that summons be issued against Senior Inspector Jaywant Shinde, Inspector Vivek Shende and Constable M A Bhosle.
The application, filed through lawyer Wesley Menezes, was moved after the victim, who was 13 at the time of the incident, deposed in the court in February, narrating how she was coerced by the officers to marry the accused against her will.
The three will face trial under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for failure to report the commission of a sexual offence.
The prosecution has claimed that the minor was gangraped by two men inside a general store in 2012 after being administered a sedative. She was threatened that her brother and father would be killed if she spoke to anyone about the incident. In 2013, after her parents realised that she was eight months pregnant, an FIR was registered against the accused by the police.
The victim, in her deposition on February 2, 2013, alleged that she was coerced into marrying one of the two men who had raped her. She claimed that when she, her father and sister went to the police station, the duty officer, Shinde, asked her if she would be able to identify the accused. She was then led to the store where one of the accused was present. He was brought to the police station, where he allegedly confessed to the crime.
The victim claimed that the same evening, Shinde told her that she should marry the accused, as he would purchase a home for her and give her child his name. Shinde also allegedly said that the accused will bear the expenses for her education. She added that though she refused to marry the accused and told the police that she feared for her life, she was pressurised by three others, including a local politician — also named as an accused in the case — till she eventually agreed to the marriage.
Following this, the two got married but soon after, the accused absconded. He remains absconding till date. The application claimed that the other two policemen also played similar roles as Shinde. The family went on to file a writ petition before the Bombay High Court and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to investigate the case.
While the three policemen were not named as accused by the SIT, an application was filed under Criminal Procedure Code after the deposition of the victim and her father. The advocates representing the accused said that the SIT had not found the three officers to have played a role in the incident and no sanction was sought to prosecute them. The court, however, rejected their contention. So far, over 10 witnesses have deposed in the trial that began in 2016.
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