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SC Directs Masking Of Identity of Petitioner-Girl Seeking Protection Against Parents In Entire Record, All Reports/Copies Of Proceedings

Mehal Jain
30 May 2021 4:15 PM GMT
SC Directs Masking Of Identity of Petitioner-Girl Seeking Protection Against Parents In Entire Record, All Reports/Copies Of Proceedings
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The Supreme Court has directed that the identity of a petitioner, seeking direction to the state of NCT of Delhi to provide her protection against her parents, be masked in the complete records of the case and not be disclosed in any report or copies of the proceedings or in any form of communication. The vacation bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose was considering an...

The Supreme Court has directed that the identity of a petitioner, seeking direction to the state of NCT of Delhi to provide her protection against her parents, be masked in the complete records of the case and not be disclosed in any report or copies of the proceedings or in any form of communication. 

The vacation bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose was considering an SLP against a March 9 order of the Delhi High Court lodging the petitioner-girl, who is alleged to be a minor by her parents, at the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, Bhaktawapur, Delhi and requiring that the Chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Alipur, Delhi ensure that adequate safety, protection and education is provided to the petitioner till further orders. The Single Judge of the HC had passed the order on a petition seeking directions to the state to provide protection to her at the hands of her respondent-father and the respondent-uncle.

Earlier, on March 2, noting the petitioner's submission that she wishes to live with her parents and that she apprehends no danger to her life with them, the HC had allowed the petitioner to be taken by her parents i.e. the respondent-father and his wife with them. As recorded in the order of the HC, it has been averred in the petition before the HC that the petitioner had been found talking with a boy, Aalim, in the month of December, 2019 which was noticed by her mother, as a consequence of which, she was beaten and confined, so that she could not talk to anyone. Because of the family pressure, she was compelled to leave the parental house on 23.11.2020 at about 8.00 pm without knowing her future. Her advocate had told the HC that her family had even fixed her marriage against her wishes.

Even though the vacation bench of the Apex Court was not inclined to interfere in the matter and finally dismissed the plea as withdrawn with liberty to the petitioner to approach the Delhi High Court only for further orders, the bench passed an order directing the masking of the identity of the petitioner.

The name of the petitioner and her identity had come to be disclosed in the SLP filed before the Court and as a result, in the cause-title and the case details on the Supreme Court website. The orders uploaded on the website of the Delhi High Court also carried the name of the petitioner and even some phone numbers from which she had allegedly made certain calls for help.

"Her identity should be your concern also as her advocate", Justice Maheshwari told the advocate representing the petitioner-girl.

"Why should her name be circulated?", observed the judge.

Even though the bench finally dismissed the SLP, asking the petitioner to move the HC only which had previously dealt with the matter, the bench directed- "Looking to the subject and the facts in controversy, in the first place, it is ordered that henceforth, the name of the petitioner shall be masked in the entire record and shall not be disclosed in any report or the copies of proceedings or in any form of communication by any person except by the authorities concerned dealing with the relevant inquiry, investigation and the judicial procedure. Wherever necessary, she shall only be referred as Ms.X".

As regards the prayer in the SLP, the bench noted that in this matter, the petitioner seeks interference by the Supreme Court in the orders dated 02.03.2021 and 09.03.2021, as passed by the High Court of Delhi.

Before the vacation bench, the advocate for the petitioner sought to advance that the petitioner-girl is a major and that though she is not aware of her date of birth, the birth details supplied by her parents before the HC are incorrect.

"We have noticed that by the order dated 09.03.2021 that was passed on the application that was filed after disposal of the Writ Petition, the High Court took note of all the background aspects and the rival submissions and thereafter, at the given stage, considered it appropriate that the petitioner be lodged at Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, Bhaktawapur and directed that the Chairperson CWC-10 Alipur shall ensure adequate safety, protection and education of the petitioner. As per the averments in the present petition, the petitioner has repeatedly asserted that she had 'escaped' from where she has lodged under the order of the High Court", recorded the division bench in its order.

The order further records that while taking up this matter, the bench has, in the first place, posed a query to the counsel for the petitioner with reference to the aforesaid averments as to where the petitioner is putting up at present?

"Learned counsel for the petitioner has responded with the submissions that though the petitioner had earlier escaped but, on 28.04.2021, she surrendered and is at present lodged at the very same Nari Niketan as ordered by the High Court. Though these events and assertions are not found on the record of this petition but learned counsel submits that such facts have been stated in the synopsis for urgency listing of this matter, as moved on 12.05.2021", the order notes.

Having regard to the circumstances of the case, the bench expressed reservations in entertaining the matter against the considered orders passed by the High Court on 02.03.2021 and 09.03.2021; and observed that if at all there is any requirement of seeking further order, the only appropriate course for the petitioner is to approach the High Court that had passed the said orders.

"Upon our expressing reservations thus, learned counsel for the petitioner seeks permission to withdraw with liberty to move appropriate application before the High Court. Having regard to the totality of the circumstances, permission granted. The Special Leave Petitions are dismissed as withdrawn with liberty, as prayed. All submissions of the parties are left open, to be considered by the High Court", directed the bench.

Proceedings before the High Court

Justice Anu Malhotra had noted that as per the averments that have been in the petition, the petitioner had been found talking with a boy, Aalim, in the month of December, 2019 which was noticed by her mother, as a consequence of which, she was beaten and confined, so that she could not talk to anyone. Because of the family pressure, she was compelled to leave the parental house on 23.11.2020 at about 8.00 pm without knowing her future and later on called her friend Aalim and asked him to rescue her or else she would commit suicide.

"It is averred in the petition, that the petitioner has been provided protection by her own friend but her family members have been threatening his father and his family members and that respondent no.3 (petitioner's uncle) has been continuously calling the father of Aalim from the mobile no. 9540839542 and that the respondent no.3 has been introducing himself as a police official of PS Narela by the name of Ram Kumar", recorded the Single Bench of the HC.

It has also been submitted that there had been threats given to the Aalim's mother to produce the petitioner by 27.02.2021, or to face the dire consequences.

During the course of the submissions that have been made on behalf of the petitioner, it has also been submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner's family had also got her marriage fixed for 16.12.2020 against her wishes.

It was also submitted on behalf of the petitioner, during the course of the proceedings, that just before the matter was taken up at 11.24 am, counsel for the petitioner received a call at 11.07 am from the mobile number 9582445117. It was submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that the person who spoke informed him that the counsel was dealing with the matter of the lady named (name of petitioner excluded from story), the petitioner, and asked him how she reached him and that he himself was a Chairman speaking from Gurgaon but that the counsel dis-connected the call informing him that his matter was reaching.

"In the circumstances of the case, it is indicated through the petition, that the petitioner has not provided her address for her own safety. In view thereof, as the petitioner is presently stated to be nearby Saket, she is directed to put an appearance before the SHO, PS Saket at 1.00 pm today with directions to the State to provide adequate security to her", Justice Malhotra had ordered on February 23.

Furthermore, inasmuch as it had been submitted on behalf of the State that an FIR under Section 363 of the IPC (kidnapping) has been registered on the complaint of the father of the petitioner, with it having been advanced on behalf of the State that the petitioner is a minor having been born on 30.12.2004 as informed by the Investigating Officer of the case, a submission was made by the petitioner in person in reply to a specific Court query that she is aged 20 years. "As per the Aadhar Card placed on record as Annexure P1, her date of birth is put forth as being 01.03.2000", recorded the HC.

Accordingly, Justice Malhotra had directed that the State shall also get an ossification test done of the petitioner before proceeding further. The number of the Beat Constable and the SHO, Saket was ordered to be provided to the petitioner so that she may make contact in the event of any difficulty.

On February 26, the bench noted that the status report that has been submitted by the State however indicates that the ossification test could not be conducted as directed vide order dated 23.02.2021.

"The petitioner is directed to appear before the SHO, PS Saket at 4 pm today and the ossification test is directed to be got conducted today itself with the report in relation thereto being placed on record for 02.03.2021, on which date, the petitioner is directed to be present in person, which is a physical hearing date", the bench ordered on February 26.

The Single Judge also directed that the verification of all the Aadhar Cards which have been submitted in the matter inclusive of the Aadhar Card produced by the parents of thepetitioner be conducted by the State.

The order of March 2 records that the petitioner was present. The respondent no.2, the father of the petitioner with his wife, i.e. the mother of the petitioner were also present.

At the outset, a submission had been made on behalf of the petitioner by her counsel that the petitioner should be taken in the custody of the State in as much as there is apprehension of danger to her life. The counsel for the respondent nos.2 and 3 sought that the petitioner's parents be allowed to speak to her. "They are allowed to do so. The petitioner states that she does not want to go with them. In the interest of justice, the petitioner who is now present is directed to be lodged at the Nari Niketan today itself", the bench initially directed.

In the same order, the bench subsequently records that "it has now been stated however by the petitioner that she wants to stay with her parents".

"A status report dated 01.03.2021 under signatures of the SHO, PS Saket has been submitted indicating to the effect that the ossification test of the petitioner was conducted at the Safdarjung Hospital giving an opinion that the age of the petitioner is between 16-18 years. As per the said status report, qua the verification of the Aadhar Card provided by the petitioner and that provided by the parents of the petitioner, the same have been submitted to the UIDAI office and the reply thereto is awaited", the bench had further noted.

"In as much as the petitioner stated that she wants to go back to her parents, saying that her parents have stated that they would allow her to study till the time she wants to study, which was also so affirmed by the parents, and in as much as the petitioner submitted in reply to repeated specific Court queries that she has no apprehension to her life as well as to her safety from her father and her mother nor does she apprehend any danger from her uncle i.e. the brother of her father, and that she does not want to go to the Nari Niketan and wants to return to her parents, the petition calls for no further action and the petitioner is now allowed to be taken by her parents i.e. the respondent no.2 and his wife Laxmi with them", the bench had directed on March 2.

The bench recorded that during the course of the proceedings on the date 02.03.2021, initially, the petitioner stated that she did not want to go with her parents and was directed to be lodged at the Nari Niketan on 02.03.2021 itself. However, thereafter she stated that she wanted to stay with her parents and was allowed to go with her parents and was taken away by her parents, as a consequence of which, the petition was disposed of with it having been observed that in relation to FIR under Section 363 of the IPC, the necessary course of law be followed.

The matter was subsequently taken up on March 5 on an application filed by one Ms. Mustari who submitted that she received a call from the petitioner saying that she was being tortured by her parents as well as by the police personnel- one SI. "The said SI Sanjay is present before the Court, who states that he is the Investigating Officer of the case and refutes the allegations of torture submitting to the effect that the petitioner has always been escorted by her parents and a woman constable", recorded Justice Malhotra in the order of March 5.

Vide the present application, the filing of which was vehemently opposed on behalf of the State, it had been submitted by the applicant that the petitioner had given a call from a Mobile No.(number excluded from story) to the Mobile No.(number excluded from story) and explained how her parents were treating her and subsequently gave a call from another Mobile No.(number excluded from story) and requested that she be rescued as her parents and respondent No.3, her uncle have been threatening her to change her mind. "As a consequence of this, the applicant travelled from District Shamli, UP to Delhi to file the present application before this Court as it concerns the life and liberty of a girl. It had been sought through the application that some mediator of the Delhi High Court Mediation Centre be appointed to monitor her upbringings and restrain her parents and relatives from torturing her. It has also been sought through this application that the petitioner be produced before this Court and adequate protection be provided to her", recorded the bench.

On behalf of the State, the copy of the MLC of the petitioner as well as the statement under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. of the petitioner dated 03.03.2021 that was recorded by the MM were placed on record.

"The State shall verify the CDR details that have been mentioned in the application filed by the applicant named Ms. Mustari and shall also produce the petitioner on the date 09.03.2021 at 2:30 p.m. Furthermore, she be produced by a woman constable only and any further interaction to the petitioner be made by a lady SI. The applicant is directed to be present on the next date of hearing", the bench had directed.

The order of March 9 records that the petitioner had been produced in terms of order dated 5.3.2021 by her parents.

"It has been considered essential to examine the petitioner in the chamber of the Court whereafter the counsel for the petitioner, the learned Additional Standing counsel for the State and the learned counsel for the respondent Nos. 2 and 3 were also called upon to join the chamber proceedings. The petitioner has stated categorically to the effect that she does not want to go to her parental home that she has been beaten by respondent no.3 and that she apprehends more beatings and has been taunted by her parents and is presently not prepared to go to her parental home", recorded the bench.

Justice Malhotra noted that as per the father and the uncle, the petitioner is a minor, and that a fake Aadhar Card has been put forth on behalf of the petitioner in collusion with one Aalim. "Presently, it is considered appropriate that the petitioner is lodged at the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust, Bhaktawapur and the Chairperson CWC-10 Alipur shall ensure that adequate safety, protection and education is provided to the petitioner till further orders", the bench had directed on March 9.

Click here to Read the Order Here

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