BREAKING| 'Virginity Test On Accused Unconstitutional': Delhi High Court Allows Sister Sephy To Seek Compensation

Update: 2023-02-07 08:45 GMT

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday held that the virginity test conducted on Sister Sephy in the 1992 Sister Abhaya murder case is unconstitutional.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed that the virginity test conducted on an accused during investigation, whether in judicial or police custody, is unconstitutional as being in violation of Article 21 of Constitution of India.

Underscoring that Article 21 is not suspended during investigation, the court granted liberty to Sister Sephy to seek compensation for violation of her human rights after the criminal case is over.

The court also rejected the objection of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Central Government on territorial jurisdiction by observing that the authorities including NHRC are in Delhi and hence, part of the cause of action arose in the national capital.

The Court was deciding a writ petition filed by Sister Sephy in 2009 questioning the virginity test. Advocate Romy Chacko appeared for the petitioner.

A CBI Court in 2020 had found Sister Sephy guilty for the murder of Sister Abhaya and sentenced her to life imprisonment. The Court had relied on virginity test findings to support its finding that Sister Abhaya was murdered to cover-up the clandestine relationship between Sephy and another accused Father Kottoor.

The sentence now remains suspended by the Kerala High Court in appeal.

Sister Abhaya, a 20 year old novice, was found dead inside the well of St.Pious Xth Convent at Kottayam on March 27, 1992. The local police and the Crime Branch of the Kerala Police had initially closed the matter as a case of suicide. However, owing to a massive public outcry, the case was later handed over to the CBI. 

Title: SR. SEPHY vCBI & ORS.

Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 127


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