LEAVING THE judge shocked and exposing serious flaws in the national capital’s witness protection system in cases of sexual assault, an accused in a case of gangrape of a minor girl tried to claim innocence and obtain bail by playing in court a video of the victim purportedly recording her statement before Delhi Police.
Questioned by the judge about the video’s source, the accused, who owns a hotel in central Delhi’s Paharganj area, claimed through his counsel that he had found it on YouTube, court documents show.
Taking a serious view of the leak during a hearing on the accused’s plea at a Tis Hazari court on December 7, Additional Sessions Judge Vimal Kumar Yadav said: “Astonishingly, it is a matter of great concern and requires a probe as to how the video of the victim got uploaded on YouTube. The investigation agency may also look into the issue as it has the potential to frustrate the whole object of protection of victim as emphasised in POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) and such legislation.”
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Provisions under POCSO mandate the investigation officer to record the statement of the victim. Such recordings are deemed “confidential piece of evidence” to be stored securely by the probe agency and the court hearing the matter.
But in this case of alleged gangrape, the accused, who is lodged in Tihar jail, argued that “not only the FIR is silent” about his role but the “video of victim” uploaded on “YouTube… also nowhere reflects the complicity of the accused”.
Court documents show that the purported “video” referred to was the statement of the 15-year-old victim recorded under section 161 of the CrPC by the investigation officer posted at the Paharganj police station.
Sources told The Indian Express that the accused’s counsel played the video at the special POCSO court to claim that the victim had not referred to his role in her statement to police about the alleged gangrape inside his hotel.
In her complaint, the Class 10 student had alleged that she was gangraped on November 3 by three men at the hotel, where she had gone to meet an acquaintance.
The complaint alleged that when the victim reached the hotel, she found her acquaintance sitting with three of his friends who were not known to her. It alleged that the acquaintance and his friends took turns to rape the minor before warning her against approaching police.
Rejecting the hotel-owner’s bail plea, the court said, “The explanation submitted by the accused nowhere appeals to logic or reason that a hotel manager would not be aware of what is happening in the hotel… it is unbelievable that accused persons would go with a girl, find their way to a particular room, commit the offence by remaining there for considerable time without the connivance of the hotel manager,” said ASJ Yadav.