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SC asks woman to move HC for redressal of grievances, seek police protection

The woman has accused Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu of rape.

The Supreme Court on Friday gave a woman, who accused Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu of rape, liberty to approach the jurisdictional high court for redressal of her grievances.

The apex court also left it open for authorities to provide her police protection in case she seeks security.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi however refused to further entertain her petition on merits. The court questioned her move to file a formal complaint against her alleged perpetrators after almost a decade.

The victim claimed she was 15 years old when the alleged gangrape occurred in 2008. The woman, only identified as ‘X’ in the cause title, had moved the apex court seeking police protection. She said she was facing threat to her life and safety. Secondly, she wanted to pursue legal recourse in the national capital because of “police inaction in a gang rape case involving the present Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.”

The petitioner, who was represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, Krishnan Venugopal, advocates M.S. Vishnu Sankar and Sriram Parakkat, said she was even willing to undergo a narco analysis/polygraph test to ascertain her allegations.

“The incident happened in 2008 and for almost 10 years you (victim) did not complain. You only do it in 2015,” Chief Justice Gogoi addressed Mr. Sibal.

“The victim was from a low-income earning family. She was a minor. There was the threat and fear of losing her reputation in the society. It is the law that once a complaint is lodged, it is minimum to have a preliminary enquiry made. But so far, nobody has been willing to look into the matter,” Mr. Sibal responded.

Chief Justice Gogoi questioned the victim’s version that she did not know the real identities of the perpetrators at the time of alleged incident but later identified them from photographs in the newspapers.

“You say you recognised once the person came into a constitutional position?” Chief Justice Gogoi asked Mr. Sibal.

Mr. Sibal said the complaint was filed in 2015, even before the person became a Chief Minister in July 2016.

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