CJ takes suo moto cognizance of Roing minor sexual assault case, stays lower court’s order

[ Karyir Riba ]

ROING, 30 Jun: The minor girl who was subjected to rape and molestation in Lower Dibang Valley (LDV) district has found some solace as the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Gauhati High Court (GHC), Sudhanshu Dhulia has taken suo moto cognizance of the case.

The case was taken up through videoconference, and a stay order on all the orders related to the custody of the child was passed.

According to the additional senior government advocate’s letter to the chief secretary, the commissioners of WCD and law, the director of health services, and the DGP, the case was taken up by the court based on a report headlined ‘Rape victim subjected to harassment, court hands over victim to alleged rapist’s relatives’, which was published in this daily.

The sessions court (SC) in Tezu had earlier ordered that the victim be handed over to one Pinky Debnath, who was identified as her local guardian. Ironically, Debnath is the sister-in-law of the alleged accused, Aka Kalung, who allegedly raped and molested the child for years.

Scrapping the order passed by the Tezu SC, the GHC has directed that the child be kept in the custody of the child care institute (CCI) in Roing till the next date. It also said that, while the proceedings in the interlocutory applications filed before the Tezu SC in connection with the custody of the victim child is stayed, the proceedings before the special POCSO court in Tezu shall continue as it is not stayed.

The LDV deputy commissioner has been directed to inquire and submit a report with regard to the facilities available at the CCI in Roing, and whether the CCI is registered or not.

In addition, the LDV SP has been directed to provide protection to the  child in the CCI. Visiting rights of the accused or his relatives, and the father of the victim, has been restrained. Exception has been granted with regard to the mother of the child.

The director of health services in Arunachal has also been directed to make an inquiry to ascertain the age of the victim by way of bone ossification test.

With all orders of the Tezu SC dismissed, the next hearing of the case will be on 16 July instead of 3 July as had been decided by the Tezu SC during Tuesday’s hearing.

The victim child was brought from Nepal as a very little girl to serve as a domestic help for Kalung and his family. She alleges to have been raped by Kalung since the very beginning of her stay with his family. A case under Section 376 (2) (f) read with Section 4 of the POCSO Act was registered against Kalung in March. He went absconding, but was arrested by the LDV police, and a chargesheet was filed against him on 20 April.

He has since been out on bail. The alleged accused is a government employee and works as programme assistant (computer) at the KVK in Roing.

When the case surfaced, the  child was  placed at the CCI here by the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and a suo moto case was registered against the alleged rapist, Aka Kalung, by the CWC.

The victim’s medical examination stated that “there are signs of suggestive penetrative intercourse but no signs of suggestive recent forceful vaginal or anal intercourse,” and her age determination test suggested that she is in between 12 and 15 years of age, proving that she is a minor.

As reported earlier, the alleged accused had fled from the district after learning that the girl had made rape allegations against him. He managed to get an interim bail from the high court even before the registration of the case.

As per police reports, Kalung was arrested by the police and a chargesheet was filed against him on 20 April. Kalung has been out on bail since, while the child has been failed by the lower courts that did not take her plight into consideration.