Woman booked for ‘misbehaviour’ while recording statement

The woman allegedly raised her voice and insisted that she would sign the statement only after one of the activists read it out to her.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Published: July 15, 2020 5:04:28 am The woman, who works as a cook and is illiterate, was allegedly gangraped on July 6 and she filed a complaint on July 7 with Araria women police station. (File)

A woman who was allegedly gangraped has been booked along with two activists and sent to jail on charges of stopping public servants from doing their duty while recording her statement before a magistrate in Araria.

The woman allegedly raised her voice and insisted that she would sign the statement only after one of the activists read it out to her.

The woman, who works as a cook and is illiterate, was allegedly gangraped on July 6 and she filed a complaint on July 7 with Araria women police station. An FIR was registered on July 9. Called to record her statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC, she appeared with two social activists. When the magistrate asked her to sign her statement, the woman reportedly showed dissent and insisted that one of the activists first read it out to her.

Araria Sub Divisional police officer Pushkar said: “As per rule, no one can accompany a complainant during recording of her statement before the magistrate. The woman and two activists face charges of stopping public servants from doing their duty and threatening the presiding officer and were sent to jail.”

The FIR — lodged by the court clerk at the first class judicial magistrate of Araria — said the activists started “asking for a copy of the victim’s recorded statement from the presiding officer and also threatened that they belonged to Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan”. It accused them of threatening the presiding officer to “re-record the victim’s statement”, called it an “open threat to judiciary” and demanded a probe into the social organisation. The three were booked under IPC Sections including 353 (assault or criminal force to stop public servant from doing their duty), 229 (personation of juror), 188 (disobedience to order), 180 (refusing to sign his/ her own statement made) and for contempt of court.

While the woman’s medical report is awaited, the police have arrested one of the five accused in the gangrape case. They said they have no substantial details on the other four.

Ashish Ranjan, Secretary, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, told The Indian Express: “The survivor was well within her rights to ask for a confidant. The court mistook her agitation as a personal affront. The focus seems to have shifted from the rape case to the misbehaviour allegations on the survivor. We have full faith in the judiciary and are looking for legal remedies.”

On July 10, when the woman went to the district court to record her statement, the social workers were not allowed to be with her in the magistrate’s chamber. During the proceedings, the woman gave her oral statement to the court but allegedly refused to sign a written statement, demanding that Kalyani Badola and the other social workers be allowed to read the statement first. Kalyani Badola and Tanmay Nivedita later attempted to intervene and help her.

Both the social workers as well as the woman were then arrested on charges of disrupting court proceedings and using foul language towards court officials. They have been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to preventing public servants from carrying out their duty, as well as sections of the Contempt of Courts Act.

In a statement protesting their arrest, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan said the survivor was in an agitated state at the time of giving her statement in court, not just because of the trauma of the gang rape but also because she had been made to narrate her experience multiple times during the police investigation in the four days since the incident. She also had no support from her family or access to a mental health professional, and her identity had been revealed in local media reports about the incident.ADVERTISEMENT

“She had been held responsible for the incident several times,” the statement said. “Family members of the [fifth] accused also kept trying to meet her and convince her to marry him.” On the day of the court proceedings, the survivor had to spend over four hours waiting in the court’s corridors in the presence of the fifth accused.

“It is true that she got very agitated and upset in court and refused to sign the statement, but she had been in a state of trauma for four days,” said a social worker with the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan. Swami said that the woman did eventually sign the statement.

Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan has demanded the immediate release of the rape survivor, Kalyani Badola and Tanmay Nivedita on “humanitarian grounds”, because of the risk of them catching Covid-19 in jail. “We also believe that the court has failed to understand the mental state of the survivor,” the organisation added.

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