The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to a 44-year-old health worker accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had visited him to obtain a COVID-19-Negative certificate.
The alleged victim had earlier accused the health inspector of assaulting and pushing her down. In the complaint, the woman stated:
The accused tied both hands at her back and mouth was blocked with a dothi. Victim’s both legs were tied together and the other end of the same tied at the cot and thereafter accused raped her. It is alleged that subsequently the petitioner removed the cloth from her mouth and threatened her that if the matter is divulged to anybody, she has to face consequences.
This was the sum and substance of the allegation in the first information report (FIR) given by the victim. The Health Inspector was accused of committing rape on the woman, on whose complaint a case under:
- Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt)
- Section 506(i) (criminal intimidation)
- Section 376
- Section 376(2)(n)
- Section 376C(b) (rape)
…..of the Indian Penal Code was registered against him.
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Given the seriousness of the allegations, the Court had dismissed the initial bail application filed by the accused and subsequently the man spent 77-days in jail.
However, in a turn of events, the woman submitted a notarised affidavit before the Court stating,
The intercourse was consensual and that she was pressured into making the statement by her relatives.
The Kerala High Court voiced its displeasure at the fact that the woman’s initial statement had resulted in the incarceration of the accused for 77 days. Justice P Kunhikrishnan observed,
The Court could not shut its eye in such situations. The criminal justice delivery system cannot go like this. Based on a false complaint, a person is in jail for about 77 days.
Kerala High Court Order
Ordering an inquiry into the matter, the Court observed that it was surprised with the change in events. The court noted:
I am surprised, after reading this affidavit. The registration of the above case was widely covered by the media in the State. Almost all the people in Kerala know about this case.
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The court further went on to say that such a false case would have had a negative impact on the morale of health workers. The judge then asked the Director General of Police to conduct an inquiry into the woman’s allegations and submit a report within three months.
The order also read:
This should be taken very seriously. Nobody should make such false complaint against a person. The petitioner was working as a Junior Health Inspector. Hundreds and hundreds of health workers are working in the State against the pandemic Covid-19.
In such a situation, this particular incident gave a black mark to the health workers in the State.
Having made these observations, the Court directed for the immediate release of the accused on bail:
- On a bond of Rs. 50,000
- The petitioner shall appear before the Investigating Officer for interrogation as and when required. The petitioner shall co-operate with the investigation and shall not, directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer