The Meghalaya High Court has squarely blamed the State government for failing to get justice for an alleged young rape victim, specifically by not moving for a DNA test to ascertain the identity of the rapist who had impregnated her in a POCSO case of 2013.
In a judgment passed on October 10, the division bench of the High Court consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh in the judgment on October 10, said that by failing to challenge the order and judgment given by a trial court acquitting the accused (who happens to be the step-father of the child), it did not pursue the case till the end.
It may be noted that the the Special POCSO court, Shillong on October 31, 2019 in its order has acquitted the accused after the alleged minor rape victim clearly and categorically testified at the trial that the accused had not committed rape on her.
“There are serious anomalies in the matter, not the least of them being that the alleged survivor, then admittedly a minor, was impregnated and she could not indicate who was the father of the child. No attempt appears to have been made to conduct a DNA test to ascertain who may have been the father,” the High Court said.
The two-judge ruling took to scolding the State government by pointing out that, “It is somewhat surprising that the State did not prefer an appeal or try to get to the bottom of the matter by insisting on a DNA test to be conducted. Sexual abuse of children is a social malaise that is deep-rooted and if the State does not treat the matter seriously and confines its role to the mere prosecutor’s job that it has to discharge in law, the larger menace may not be arrested.”
“It is well known that incidents of incest and sexual abuse of minors are rife and, more often than not, it is a person in the position of a guardian who commits the offence. Again, the distressing Indian psyche is such that it is the survivor who is blamed and shamed and made to feel that it was the survivor’s fault that brought her suffering upon her,” the court added.
It further said that “These are matters where the State should be proactive and whenever there is a whiff of coercion or threat on the survivor or the informant, the State should step in to ensure that justice is done, whether by giving protection to the victim or by counseling the victim and other relatives.”
The judgment also lectured the State Commission for Women by suggesting the commission to play a role in such cases.
The High Court however gave no relief to the appellant who is the aunt of the alleged victim except to urge her to pursue the good cause “in accordance with law”.
Rejecting the appeal by the aunt of the alleged victim, the court said, “There is no doubt that the applicant in this case seeks to espouse the cause of justice and take up cudgels on behalf of the alleged survivor as the alleged survivor may be in a situation where she cannot choose as she wants. Nevertheless, since the applicant seeking leave to appeal is neither the informant nor the alleged survivor and the order of acquittal is based on the alleged survivor’s complete denial of the incident, no leave can be granted to the applicant to prefer the proposed appeal.”
The court also said that the State government “has an adequate explanation to justify its failure to prefer an appeal or take appropriate measures in the matter.”