Raising concerns over the threat to the lives of survivors of sexual assault and witnesses in light of the situation in Uttar Pradesh, the Bombay high court (HC) said it did not want the situation to be repeated in Maharashtra, and hence directed the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) of Mira-Bhayandar Police to provide protection to a sexual assault survivor who had approached the court seeking the same.
A division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice Manish Pitale, while hearing a plea by the survivor on Tuesday, was informed by advocate Trupti Bharadi that her client hailed from Rajasthan and that she was forced to work in a dance bad in Mumbai by her parents in 2011, when she was 17 years old. Bharadi further submitted that thereafter her client, her three sisters and four minors were forced into prostitution and were also sent to Dubai on three occasions between 2012 and 2014 by an agent.
Bharadi claimed that after the survivor came to know that she was pregnant in March 2020, her father threatened to kill her if she refused to continue with prostitution. She continued with the pregnancy and gave birth in August 2020. However, due to the threat from her father, she left his house and started living with a friend.
Her father then allegedly sent two people to coerce her into going back into prostitution in December last year, following which the woman filed a non-cognisable complaint with Bhayandar police. Her father allegedly also threatened her friend, prompting the friend to lode police complaint against the father at Kashimira police station.
However, Bharadi claimed, the police did not take any action on the complaints, and hence her client approached the court seeking directions for registration of a case and for providing police protection to them.
Additional public prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde for the police submitted that a first information report (FIR) was registered under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Immoral Trafficking Act against the woman’s parents. Shinde further added that as a new investigating officer had taken over the case, and he would require some time to investigate the matter. Shinde said the officer would submit the report before the court after two weeks.
Responding to this, advocate Bharadi said some persons who had allegedly committed the offences were not made accused in the case and added that their should also be added in the FIR. He further urged the court to monitor the investigation and provide protection to the complainant and her friends who supported her till the names are added in the FIR.
After hearing the submissions, the court observed, “We know what is happening Uttar Pradesh; witnesses are killed. We do not want that situation in Maharashtra.” While the court allowed the police to investigate and submit a report, it held that it was necessary to provide police protection to the petitioner and witnesses free of charge till further order. The court also sought a compliance report in the next hearing on April 26.