THE COMMUNICATION curbs in Jammu and Kashmir have made it difficult for the police to contact an actor, who is set to be recalled as a witness before a Mumbai court for the trial against a man accused of sexually harassing her on board a flight in 2017.
On Saturday, a special court allowed an application moved by the prosecution seeking to recall the actor for her examination-in-chief. It directed the police to ensure that the actor appears before it or records her statement on video conference or the video application Skype.
However, when contacted, a senior inspector said: “We did not receive any response from the actor when we contacted her on her cellphone. We have sent a letter to her address, communicating the court’s directions.”
The officer added that since Internet is not currently available in Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of its special status last month, other attempts are being made to approach the actor.
In its plea before the court, the prosecution has stated that as the actor is yet to identify the accused, she should be recalled.
The lawyer of the accused has objected to the application, stating that the prosecution had ample opportunity to get the actor to identify the accused when she and her mother had deposed before the court in January. He also submitted that if the prosecution’s plea is allowed, he should also be given an opportunity to cross-examine the actor.
“It is common practice while recording evidence that the accused is shown to the victim after completion of cross-examination. From the testimony of PW 1 (victim), it appears that the aspect of identification is left out. For the purpose of fair trial, I deem it just and proper to allow (the application),” the court said.
Till now, the court has examined nine witnesses in the case, including the actor and her mother. Following the prosecution’s plea on Saturday, the court has deferred the recording of the accused’s statement till next week.
On December 9, 2017, the then 17-year-old actor had alleged on social media that while she was travelling with her mother in a flight, the accused, seated behind her, kept his foot on the armrest of her seat and repeatedly touched her back.
Following this, the accused was arrested under Section 354 (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The accused had claimed that he had no intention to sexually harass the actor and that he was sleeping throughout the flight, having informed the airport crew to not disturb him. He was granted bail by the court on December 20, 2017.
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