Bihar court sends ‘gang rape survivor’ to jail for contempt while recording statement

Two women from an NGO also placed under arrest for helping her, charged with obstructing proceedings of the court.

New Delhi: A civil court in Araria district of Bihar has sent a 22-year-old “gang rape survivor” to jail on charges of obstructing proceedings of the court. It also charged two social workers with the similar crime for assisting her.

While recording her statement in the rape case before a magistrate in Araria, the woman allegedly raised her voice, insisting she would sign the statement only after one of the activists has seen it, according to the police.

On 7 July, the woman had filed a complaint at the Araria women’s police station in which she alleged that she was gang-raped on 6 July. After an FIR was registered, she had been called to record her statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC on 10 July.

The police said she appeared with two social activists Kalyani Badola and Tanmay Nivedata from NGO Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan to record her statement. When the magistrate asked her to sign her statement, the woman allegedly insisted that one of the activists first read it out to her.

According to the police, no one can accompany a complainant during the recording of a statement before the magistrate.

All three women are now lodged in a jail in Samastipur, located around 225 km away from Araria.

Investigation in the gang rape case is, meanwhile, underway, with the police having made one arrest so far. The complainant’s medical report is awaited, said the police.

Speaking about the arrest of the women, Araria Sub Divisional police officer Pushkar Kumar told ThePrint, “Police officers were not involved in the court proceedings. The survivor has been arrested on the basis of an FIR registered by the judicial magistrate of the honorable court.”

The charges against three women

According to the FIR registered against the three women, they “misbehaved” with the presiding officer.

“While recording their statement, the accused trio insulted the presiding officer by misbehaving with him and tried to obstruct the proceedings of the court. The survivor refused to sign the written statement saying that she would not sign until Kalyani and Tanmay have read it,” said the FIR, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint.

The FIR also said the complainant went out of the magistrate’s chamber and argued with the court researcher, using abusive language.

The three were booked under IPC Sections including 353 (assault or criminal force to stop public servant from doing their duty), 228 (Attempting to insult and disturb judicial proceedings) of IPC and under Sections 188, 180, 120 (B) of the Contempt of Court Act.

Mobile phones of the three women were confiscated as they were sent to judicial custody.

In a statement, the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, which works for labourers, has said the magistrate “mistook” the complainant’s “nervousness” for contempt.

“While recording the statement in front of the magistrate on 10 July, the survivor was a little nervous. She was feeling disturbed due to her identity being exposed in the media and narrating the same events time and again for the last four days. Also, she was not getting any support from her family either. She only wanted to consult Kalyani before signing the written statement. But the court mistook this nervousness of the survivor for an insult and registered a case on this basis only,” it said.

The statement added, “The court ordered Kalyani and Tanmay, who are assisting the survivor, to be taken into custody. They were kept in custody overnight and then arrested the next day on charges of obstructing court’s proceedings. Now they have been sent to judicial custody.”

The ‘gang rape’ case

In her complaint to the police on 7 July, the woman said she had gone out with a man on the evening of 6 July to learn how to ride a bike. After some time, they had stopped at a place where three more men came and forcibly took her to a deserted place, said the complainant, adding that the men then called another to join them.

Later, all four took turns to rape her after which they left the woman, threatening to come back again, she told the police.

According to the complaint, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint, the man she had gone with was hand-in-glove with the alleged rapists as he left the place without a word when the three men approached them and forcibly took her away.

The complaint also said she received “threatening calls” from the man she knew, and also the others, the same night. She approached Kalyani Badola of Jan Jagran Shakti Sansthan the next day for help, and the NGO then helped her get an FIR registered.

SDPO Kumar told ThePrint that the FIR was immediately registered and investigation started, “Just a day after the FIR, one of the accused was arrested and has also been produced in court. A search is on for others named in her complaint.”

Araria SP Dhurat Sayli could not be contacted as Kumar said she was not well. Jan Jagran
Shakti Sansthan secretary Ashish Ranjan, meanwhile, told ThePrint that they have demanded immediate release of the three arrested women in the wake of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.

Bihar is in the grip of Covid-19 pandemic and the state government has announced a complete lockdown until 31 July, though rural areas have been exempted from the lockdown.

Source: The Print


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