Allahabad High Court directs CJM Meerut to decide rape survivor's application within 6 weeks
The Allahabad High Court has directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Meerut to decide the application moved by a rape survivor in the light of the judgement laid down by the Supreme Court, within six weeks.
The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi passed this order, while hearing a petition filed by the victim.
The petition under Article 227 of the Constitution is targeted against the order dated April 18, 2022, whereby the Additional Session Judge/FTC, Meerut in Criminal Revision arising out of the order dated July 28, 2021 passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Meerut in Case u/s 156(3) CrPC, Police Station Nauchandi, District Meerut.
Factual aspects of the issue which have given rise to the case is that the petitioner has filed an application u/s 156(3) CrPC stating therein that she is a married woman and mother of two children who are 18 and 14 years of age.
The petitioner and Prem Chand-opposite party no 2 are working as Lecturer. Opposite party no 2 was having a lustful eye over the petitioner and he used to tease her and on this account she got disturbed.
She restrained Premchand not to do these misbehaving deeds but he did not downward. During the intervening period, the applicant filled up a form of M.Ed and the opposite party no 2 after showing his fellow feelings convinced the petitioner to go with him and collect the study material for M.Ed examination.
After reaching the house of opposite party no 2, the petitioner got to know that opposite party no 2 was residing there alone, then she immediately tried to return back from there. The opposite party no 2 bolted the door from inside and ravished her and also took her obscene photos and videography and on that score he used to harass and blackmail her time and again.
Submission raised by the counsel for the revisionist is that the opposite party no 2 has committed rape upon the petitioner and taken obscene photographs and videos and on that score the opposite party no 2 is threatening her and committed rape upon her.
It is further submitted by the counsel that in order to quench his animal instinct, opposite party no 2 made the obscene photographs as a tool of blackmail and compelled her to kneel down before him. Ditched and perturbed by this, the petitioner went to the police station and gave an application for lodging the FIR.
When no action was taken on her application, the petitioner submitted an application on December 28, 2020 to the S.P., Meerut but none of the authorities paid any heed to her earnest request of lodging the FIR.
Left with no option, the petitioner moved an application u/s 156(3) CrPC before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Meerut who vide impugned order dated July 28, 2021, rejected 156(3) application of the petitioner, declining to lodge any FIR.
Aggrieved by this order, the petitioner moved a revision before the court of District & Session Judge, Meerut who has rejected the revision vide order dated 18.4.2022 and affirmed the order of CJM. On these factual aspects of the issue, aggrieved by these both orders of rejection, the petitioner approached the Court, assailing the legality and validity of the same.
Counsel for the revisionist during argument has drawn attention of the Court to Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which deals with the ‘information to the police and their powers to investigate.’ In Section 154 its Proviso was added by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (13 of 2013 dated 3.2.2013), with regard to the offences against a woman relating to Sections 326A, 326B, 354, 376 and its derivatives and Section 509 IPC, clearly mentioning that if the information is given by the woman against whom the offences in these sections alleged to have been committed, such information shall be recorded by the woman police officer or any woman officer and the recording of such information shall be videographed. Not only this, after lodging of the FIR, statement u/s 164 CrPC shall be recorded as soon as possible. In addition to above, a copy of information as recorded under sub-section (1) shall be handed over forthwith, free of cost to the informant.
Thus, from the aforesaid it is clear that the legislature in its wisdom has added the proviso clause in Section 154(1) CrPC in the year 2013 itself with all the safeguards especially 154(3) CrPC. In fact this addition was a conscious attempt by the legislation, making it incumbent and mandatory to every S.S.P/S.P to look into the matter if any such complaint is received by him and shall have a preliminary investigation either by himself or some of his subordinate and then lodge a suitable FIR. The legislation in its own wisdom has planned to use the stage machinery to investigate all those offences, in which the women are poor victims of the atrocities committed by male.
It is strenuously urged by the counsel for the revisionist that the poor lady has been running from pillar to post to get a FIR lodged but of no avail. The responsible police officers of District Meerut have paid no heed or attention to her urge to lodge a FIR, nor the mandatory provisions quoted above have been followed by the senior police officers and learned court below too have taken the things lightly and did not oblige her directing to lodge the FIR against erring named offenders.
The Court observed that,
The Apex Court in the decision of XYZ v State of M.P. (supra) has consciously bracketed the weaker section of the society with the special proviso in the case of sexual harassment, sexual assault or any similar criminal allegation where the victim is already under the stage of trauma, the Courts should press upon the police for investigation. It is also mentioned that due regard must be had to the fact that it may not be possible for the complainant to retrieve important evidence regarding her complaint. It may also not be possible to arrive at the truth of the matter in the absence of such evidence. It is also expected from the courts to remain cognizant of the fact that legal process tends to be even more onerous for complainants who are potentially dealing with trauma and societal shame due to the unwarranted stigma attached to victims of sexual harassment and assault.
The Court should be sensitive enough to fathom the agony and mental trauma faced by the poor victim and it is the onerous responsibility of the courts to agitate the police agency to hold an in-depth probe into the matter.
The legislature has consciously moulded the criminal procedure to enable victims of sexual crimes to seek justice.
This has to be done in recognition of the gravity of sexual crimes and the need to handle such cases in an appropriately sensitive manner and for this a special provision under Section 327 of CrPC was enacted for an in-camera trial to be conducted relating to offences punishable under Sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C or 376D of the Indian Penal Code.
‘After perusing the entire material on record including the impugned orders, I have got no hesitation to say that the impugned orders are well short of the standard set up by the Apex Court, the Court further observed, while disposing the petition.
‘Thus, the orders dated 18.4.2022 and 28.7.2021 are hereby quashed and the matter is remanded back to the learned CJM, Meerut with a direction to re-consider and re-visit the entire matter once again and decide the same in the light of the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in aforementioned judgment, by passing a well-reasoned order in accordance with law within a period of six weeks from the date of production of certified copy of the order,’ the order read.