In an incident that raises serious questions on the safety of victims and witnesses, the judge and the courtroom were left astounded when an accused in a case of gangrape of a minor girl sought bail claiming innocence by playing a video which shows the victim purportedly recording her statement before Delhi Police.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the accused, when questioned by the judge about the source of the video, claimed through his counsel that he had found it on YouTube.
Taking a serious note of the leak during a hearing on the bail plea of the accused, who owns a hotel delhi’s Paharganj, at a Tis Hazari court on December 7, Additional Sessions Judge Vimal Kumar Yadav said that the leak is a cause for serious concern and requires a probe to ascertain how the video found its way to YouTube.
“Astonishingly, it is a matter of great concern and requires a probe as to how the video of the victim got uploaded on YouTube. The investigation agency may also look into the issue as it has the potential to frustrate the whole object of protection of victim as emphasised in POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) and such legislation,” The Indian Express quoted the judge as saying.
According to the provisions under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, it is mandatory for the investigating officer to record the statement of the victim. These recordings are deemed “confidential piece of evidence” and are to be stored securely by the probe agency and the court hearing the case.
But in this case, the accused, who filed a bail plea and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, claimed that not only the FIR is silent about his role but the video of victim’s statement uploaded on YouTube also nowhere clarifies his involvement.
According to the report, court documents show that the purported video referred to was the statement of the 15-year-old victim which was recorded under section 161 of the CrPC by the investigation officer at the Paharganj police station.
In her complaint, the victim girl, a Class X student, had alleged that she was gangraped on November 3 by three men at the Paharganj hotel, where she had gone to meet an acquaintance.
She had also alleged that when she reached the hotel, she found her acquaintance sitting with three of his friends whom she had never met before. In her complaint, she alleged that the acquaintance and his friends took turns to rape the minor and then threatened her against approaching police.
Rejecting the accused’s bail plea, ASJ Yadav said, “The explanation submitted by the accused nowhere appeals to logic or reason that a hotel manager would not be aware of what is happening in the hotel… it is unbelievable that accused persons would go with a girl, find their way to a particular room, commit the offence by remaining there for considerable time without the connivance of the hotel manager.”
In the midst of growing incidents of rape and atrocities against women, the shocking incident raises questions not only on the safety of victims in cases of sexual assault but also comes as an indictment for all authorities.
Earlier this year, it was reported that rape videos are being sold in hundreds every day in Uttar Pradesh.
Depending on the “duration” and “exclusivity” of the clips, which are 30 seconds to 5 minutes long, they are categorised under Rs 50-150.