December 24, 2005
Taking note of the alleged rape and murder of a call centre employee, Pratibha, the Karnataka High Court today sought a report from the state and the police on the steps they have taken to ensure security of women working in Bangalore.
The state government has also been asked for a report on the status of the investigation and steps taken for an expeditious trial.
The HC took suo moto note of a letter written by a sitting judge on the incident. Referring to the crime, Justice S Bannurmath, in his letter to the acting Chief Justice of the Karnataka HC, said the incident had given rise to concerns regarding ‘‘safety and security of womenfolk’’.
‘‘Though this is not a solitary incident of such a ghastly crime, it has evoked a question mark on the safety of all. It is to be noted that there are more than seven lakh working women in Bangalore alone,’’ Justice Bannurmath stated.
‘‘Alarming increase in crimes show that criminals are not afraid of the present criminal justice system. If proper remedial action is not taken expeditiously, people may lose faith in the criminal justice system and rule of law,’’ he said, asking the court to consider his letter as a PIL for issuing directions to all concerned ‘‘including the investigating agency, prosecuting agency, the courts and the public’’.
While taking up the letter as a PIL, a division bench of the HC comprising the acting Chief Justice and Justice Abdul Nazeer have stated that the ‘‘court cannot be a mute spectator’’ to the issue of the safety of working women and the ‘‘violent crime against Prathiba’’.
‘‘This court cannot shut its eyes against such incidents in a city which is the nerve centre of various developmental activities, bringing the state on the world-map,’’ the bench observed. ‘‘There is an immediate need to promote a pro-active role by the police as well as the criminal courts conducting trial of cases in relation to crimes against women,’’ the HC said, referring to a case in Rajasthan where persons accused of raping a German tourist were convicted within a month.
‘‘People will shun Bangalore if such incidents are repeated. The state should not take this case as any other,’’ Justice Padmaraj said. The court has given the state two weeks time to respond to the notices and has appointed an amicus curae.
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