As a result of its challenges to the anticipatory bail granted to its former chief secretary, Jitendra Narain, who has been accused of gangrape and sexual abuse, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands administration informed the Supreme Court on Monday that evidence has been tampered with.
According to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Territory administration, “he issued a written direction to the private operator who maintained CCTV cameras that they are removed.” In his plea, he requested that the court take up the matter on Tuesday.
According to the bench, presided by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit, the matter will be listed on Friday, November 4.
It was reported on October 27 in the Deccan Era that the hard disk of the DVR (digital video recorder) of the CCTV camera system installed at Narain’s house in Port Blair had been erased and that it had then been removed upon Narain’s transfer to Delhi in July. In their testimonies, a PWD official and a CCTV expert were said to have confirmed the alleged destruction of electronic evidence.
A 21-year-old woman who filed a complaint against Narain and Labour Commissioner R L Rishi also approached the court on Monday. Accordingly, the bench tagged her appeal with that of the UT administration.
Aside from gang rape (section 376D), Narain also faces charges under sections 228A (disclosure of the identity of the victim), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Narain was granted interim protection from arrest by the Delhi High Court on October 20. On October 21, he approached the Calcutta High Court Circuit Bench sitting at Port Blair to request an extension of time, stating that the following circuit bench would not begin until November 14. A Circuit Bench granted the relief and ordered him to appear before the Special Investigation Team investigating the matter.
In its appeal challenging the anticipatory bail, the UT administration stated that, based on the statements of the 21-year-old and protected witnesses under Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC, the present case appears to be a case of ‘habitual sexual predation’ in which the respondent is accused of… With his authority and another senior government officer (labour commissioner, co-accused), he used his power to induce and exploit innocent victims by providing them with employment opportunities. The report states, “the allegations levelled… are severe and grave.”
According to the report, there are prima facie, clear and definite allegations/statements that the IAS officer “had sexual relations with her on two occasions without her consent,” and these “statements … alone are sufficient” to convict him.
There are no contradictions in the statement of the prosecutrix given under section 161 of the CrPC and section 164 of the CrPC. There is a specific description of the location of the SOC (scene of the crime) and the registration number of the car that carried the prosecutrix to the SOC. The statement is corroborative, as well as the S164 information of the protected witness… and the electronic evidence gathered to date. It was clear from the call data record reports of the prosecutrix, Respondent No.1 (Narain) and the co-accused that they were together when the first incident occurred, and the petitioner and prosecutrix were together when the second incident occurred,” said the plea.
Despite such heinous and grave allegations of gang rape, shockingly… (Narain) was granted interim protection from arrest… by the… Delhi High Court” and was “extended until 14.11.2022, under the completely false and illusory pretext that he had no forum to file his anticipatory bail petition as the Circuit Bench of the…High Court at Port Blair was on vacation,” it stated.
Narain’s decision to seek relief from the Delhi High Court and Calcutta High Court rather than the jurisdiction Sessions Court at Port Blair, with a claim that he did not have access to a forum as a result of his vacation, was considered blatant forum shopping and abuse of the legal system.
Despite being informed by the prosecution about the availability of jurisdictional sessions courts, the Delhi High Court and the Calcutta High Court did not consider the same or even mention it in their respective judgments.
The UT administration stated that relief was granted to Narain “without considering the gravity and seriousness of the offence and the fact that evidence has been submitted that the accused, by exercising his influence, has already begun tampering with the evidence and influencing the witnesses”.
Anticipatory bail cannot be granted whenever criminality is involved, custodial interrogation is necessary to uncover the truth,h and other aspects and facts must be discovered in the investigation.
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