Rape Accused Dead; But SC Keeps Case Alive To Decide Victim’s Interests [Read Order]

Rape Accused Dead; But SC Keeps Case Alive To Decide Victim’s Interests [Read Order]


“I urged the court not to close the case merely citing the death of the accused because here the issue involves the victim and not just the accused. There is a question of her relief and rehabilitation. We had also urged the court to decide on the law also, to lay down general principles as to if a man who sexually abuses an adult victim can be tried in a children's court under the stringent provisions of POCSO Act if the victim has an under-developed brain like that of a child. There will be so many victims like her. Now the matter has been sent back to the same bench for consideration of issues and points raised by me," Said victim’s mother's lawyer Aishwarya Bhati


The sensational case wherein a 38-year-old woman (suffering from cerebral palsy, a major brain disorder) whose mental maturity was that of a girl aged three years was raped, took a sudden twist with the death of the accused at a time when the Supreme Court, after reserving verdict, was mulling a ruling on if a man who sexually abuses a mentally challenged adult victim can be tried in a special child victim-friendly court under the stringent provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012.

In ordinary course the case abates after the death of the accused. But on a plea by the victim’s mother to look into the larger issue and lay down a ruling and also to issue directions regarding relief and rehabilitation of the victim, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra has promised to consider the issues.

Due to the impact of the gruesome incident seven years ago, the victim’s mental capacity drastically reduced from that of an 8-year old to a three-year old toddler.

This was making the recording of her statement before a Magistrate extremely difficult as she could not convey to the judge what exactly was done to her.

The mother of the victim, a 60 year old doctor residing in Delhi’s Defence Colony, had sought shifting of the trial of the case to a children's court which has special rules to make the victim more comfortable during the trial.

She had also wanted steps for relief and rehabilitation of her daughter. The court had after hearing both the sides reserved its judgment in December.

But now, the entire case took a new twist with accused Santosh Kumar Yadav's death after which in ordinary course, the case is closed.

The mother's lawyer Aishwarya Bhati said: “I urged the court not to close the case merely citing the death of the accused because here the issue involves the victim and not just the accused. There is a question of her relief and rehabilitation. We had also urged the court to decide on the law also, to lay down general principles as to if a man who sexually abuses an adult victim can be tried in a children's court under the stringent provisions of POCSO Act if the victim has an under-developed brain like that of a child. There will be so many victims like her. Now the matter has been sent back to the same bench for consideration of issues and points raised by me,"

 In a normal court, a "child" victim feels intimidated in the presence of the accused and his lawyer who will cross examine her even if it is an in-camera proceeding. In a designated POCSO court, the procedure of recording statement of a victim is different - a child will be comfortable as the accused will not be seen. The accused's lawyer cannot cross examine the child and he can only submit a list of questions to the judge who will then put it to her.

Read the order here.


This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.