SRINAGAR, May 15: The High Court today while taking suo moto cognizance of the recent rape incident of a minor girl in district Bandipora, directed the Government to submit report with regard to steps taken for effective investigation into the matter.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan while issuing notice to Inspector General of Police Kashmir and directed him to submit a report before the court by or before May 17 indicating there- in the steps taken for investigation into the matter as also the protection given to the victim and her family.
Court also directed the Secretary to Health and Medical Education Department to report to the court about the steps taken regarding the medical examination of victim and medical treatment and counseling being administered to her.
State counsel however, accepted the notice on behalf of IGP Kashmir and Secretary H&ME and was asked to submit the report of both the officials positively before next date.
Given the importance of the matter, Court appointed advocate Farah Bashir as amicus to assist the Court in the case. As she is a Government advocate as such Court made it clear that her appointment as amicus to the case cannot come in the way of her assisting the Court in the matter.
It has come to the notice of the Court to extensive reporting in the media regarding the incident disclosing the identity of the minor victim. Court said that such reporting has done grave injustice to the privacy and dignity of the child victim.
“We are of the view that immediate action is required to be taken to identify the reports in the print media and electronic media wherein provision of law have been violated and action taken against persons responsible for the same”, the DB order said.
Court has further added that there are reports in the media which express grave apprehensions with regard to the effectiveness of the investigation and attempts by accused persons to interfere with the same in order to prevent the guilty being brought to book.
Court also observed that the manner and nature of reporting the alleged offence is being effected in the media in absolute violation of specific statutory prohibitions against disclosure of identity of the victim especially in respect of a minor victim. “In the case in hand, the victim as per newspaper reports is a minor girl child of three years age. With regard to the disclosure of identity of victim of sexual offence two statutory provisions deserve notice and after referring the provision of law court said, these provisions are stringent, compliance therefore mandatory and contravention is punishable.
“There can be no manner of doubt that the investigating agency has to be permitted to discharge its responsibilities independently and freely without any kind of interference and obstruction by person or authority”, Court said adding with “Additionally the police is vested with the responsibility of ensuring adequate protection to the victim as well as her family”.
Court also said that in cases of sexual violence, critical requirements of sensitive medical examination, treatment and counseling of the traumatized victim must be ensured. Adequate provision of these facilities is the responsibility of the medical authorities of the State.
The incident, court said, at hand is not the first incident of sexual violence in the State. Sexual violence unfortunately is endemic to human beings and is not confined to any particular culture, class, religion, age or geographical location.
“While legislations have attempted to take a strict view of the matter and provide stringent punishments for sexual violence, however, it is increasingly being found that even youngsters are being implicated, some of them unwittingly rendering themselves liable under penal laws being ignorant and unaware of the consequences of their acts or omissions”, read the order.