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Andaman administration to Supreme Court: Ex-Chief Secy Jitendra Narain tampered with CCTV evidence

The 21-year-old woman who had filed the complaint against Narain and Labour Commissioner R L Rishi also approached the court on Monday. The bench tagged her plea with that of the UT administration.

The official residence of the chief secretary in Port Blair where the women are suspected to have been taken. (Express photo by Ritu Sarin)

Challenging the anticipatory bail granted to its former chief secretary, Jitendra Narain, who is facing allegations of gangrape and sexual abuse, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands administration told the Supreme Court on Monday that it has proof that he had “tampered with the evidence”.

“He issues a direction in writing to the private operator who was maintaining CCTV cameras that you remove them… and that has been done,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Territory administration. He urged the court to take up the plea on Tuesday.

The bench, presided by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit, said it would list the matter on Friday, November 4.

The Indian Express had reported on October 27 that the hard disk of the DVR (digital video recorder) of the CCTV camera system installed at Narain’s house in Port Blair was first erased and, subsequently, the DVR was removed at the time of his transfer to Delhi in July. A PWD official and a local CCTV expert were understood to have given their testimonies confirming the alleged destruction of electronic evidence.

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The 21-year-old woman who had filed the complaint against Narain and Labour Commissioner R L Rishi also approached the court on Monday. The bench tagged her plea with that of the UT administration.

Jitendra Narain.

Besides gangrape (section 376D), Narain also faces charges under Sections 228A (disclosure of identity of the victim), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

On October 20, the Delhi High Court had granted Narain interim protection from arrest till October 28. On October 21, he approached the Calcutta High Court Circuit Bench sitting at Port Blair seeking extension of time, saying the next circuit bench would start only by November 14. The Circuit Bench granted the relief and asked him to appear before the Special Investigation Team probing the case.

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In its appeal challenging the anticipatory bail, the UT administration said that as per the statements of the 21-year-old and protected witnesses under Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC, “the present case appears to be a case of ‘habitual sexual predation’ where the respondent accused… under the weight and power of his authority along with another senior government officer (labour commissioner, co-accused), used to induce and exploit innocent victims on the pretext of getting them jobs”. It said “the allegations levelled… are extremely serious and grave in nature”.

“There are, prima facie, clear and categorical allegations/ statements of the prosecutrix of” the IAS officer “having sexual intercourse with her, at two instances, against her consent” and these “statements… alone are enough to convict” him, it said.

“There are no contradictions in the statement of prosecutrix given under 161 CrPC and under 164 CrPC. The specific details of location of SOC (scene of crime) and the car registration number which carried the prosecutrix to the SOC is specifically given. The statement is corroborated by S164 statement of the protected witness… and the electronic evidence gathered so far. Call data record reports of the prosecutrix, Respondent No.1 (Narain) and the co-accused point out that all of them were together when first incident took place, and petitioner and prosecutrix were together when the second incident took place,” said the plea.

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Despite “such heinous and grave allegations of gangrape, shockingly… (Narain) was granted interim protection from arrest… by the … Delhi High Court” and “extended by the… Calcutta High Court till 14.11.2022, on the completely false and illusive pretext that there was no forum available to him for moving his anticipatory bail petition as the Circuit Bench of the…High Court at Port Blair was on vacation,” it said.

The UT administration said that Narain’s decision to approach the Delhi HC and Calcutta HC “instead of… the jurisdiction Sessions Court at Port Blair, with a plea that no forum was available to him on account of vacation, is nothing but a blatant attempt of forum shopping and abuse of process of law”.

It said that although both the Delhi HC and Calcutta HC “were duly apprised by the prosecution about the availability of jurisdictional session court”, they “had neither considered the same nor even mentioned the said fact in their respective impugned orders”.

The UT administration said relief was granted to Narain “without considering the gravity and seriousness of the offence and the fact that evidence has come on record that the accused, by exercising his influence, has already started tampering with the evidence and influencing the witnesses”.

“When the element of criminality is involved and custodial interrogation is required to unearth the truth in the matter and the other aspects and facts are required to be unfolded in investigation”, no anticipatory bail can be given, it said.

First published on: 01-11-2022 at 04:12 IST
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