Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
A 22-year-old woman from Bihar, who was allegedly gang-raped on July 6, has been sent to judicial custody on charges of 'obstructing government servants from discharging their duty' and other charges. Two other activists have also been booked 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 had allegedly insisted that she would sign the statement only after it was read out to her by one of the activists.
She is illiterate and works as a cook, and was allegedly gang-raped on July 6. The next day, she filed a complaint with the Araria women police station. On July 9, an FIR was registered.
She reportedly appeared with two social activists when was called to record her statement before the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC. When asked to sign her statement, she raised her voice and insisted that one of the activists first read it out to her.
The woman is now lodged at the district jail in Dalsinghsarai. Senior advocates like Indira Jaising, Prashant Bhushan and others have written to the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, stressing the need to "infuse the incident with some sensitivity" by considering the state of the survivor's mind.
The three have been booked under various sections of the IPC, 353 assault or criminal force to stop public servants from doing their duty, 229 personations of a juror, 188 disobedience to order, 180 refusing to sign his/her own statement made and for contempt of court.
As per rule, no one can accompany a complainant during the recording of her statement before the magistrate. The woman and two activists face charges of obstructing public servants from doing their duty and threatening the presiding officer and were sent to jail," The Indian Express quoted Araria Sub Divisional police officer Pushkar as saying.
The FIR lodged by the court clerk at the first class judicial magistrate of Araria said that 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 the judiciary." It further demanded a probe into the social organisation.
The woman's medical report is awaited. One of the five accused in the gangrape case has been nabbed by the police.
Reportedly, there are no substantial details on the other four.
"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," said Ashish Ranjan, Secretary, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan.
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