The Gujarat High Court on Friday directed the chief judicial magistrate to pass an order of investigation by a competent police officer in a complaint of rape and human trafficking made by a Bulgarian national against the CMD of a leading Indian pharmaceutical company.
In its order, the court of Justice Hasmukh Suthar said, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the investigation shall be completed within two months under the supervision of a senior IPS officer nominated by the Deputy Inspector General (Law and Order).
Serious allegations have also been levelled against police officials for failing to discharge their duty, the court said. It directed the government to look into the matter and take appropriate action against erring police officials for inaction and dereliction of duty.
A Bulgarian national had approached the Gujarat High Court for directions to lodge an FIR against the CMD of a leading Indian pharmaceutical company for rape, assault, criminal intimidation and human trafficking, among other offences, and against police officials for not registering an FIR on her complaint.
In her plea, she said despite approaching the police and filing her complaint, it failed to initiate investigation and lodge an FIR. When she approached a magistrate court with a private complaint against the accused persons, it dismissed the same, she said.
She sought the court’s direction to quash an order passed by the chief judicial magistrate dismissing her private complaint against the accused persons.
The court observed that despite being aware of their rights, victims of sexual violence are hardly able to resolve or redress their grievances in the existing mechanism considering different loopholes in the system.
“Only a few bold and courageous victims get ready to take torment and start a legal battle. Considering the prevailing scenario, police authority and learned magistrates ought to have dealt with such complaints in a sensitive manner,” it said.
The court said the magistrate ignored the settled principles of law and, hence, its order is required to be quashed.
The court said merely ordering an investigation into the allegations of complaint would not cause any prejudice in any manner to anyone.
When the police notice disclosure of cognizable offence at an initial stage, it is duty bound to register a complaint and investigate the offence as per the law laid down by the apex court in the case of Lalita Kumari (Supra), the HC observed.
The Bulgarian national said in her plea that she came to India on November 24, 2022 for a job as flight attendant and joined the pharma firm.
Her job profile was changed and she was made a butler personal attendant and appointed to travel and remain with the CMD of the firm.
During the course of the job, she was subject to sexual harassment, and when she did not surrender to illicit demands, she was removed from her job on April 3, 2023, he plea stated.
The petitioner wrote to her Embassy and Foreign Regional Registration Offices in this regard.
She claimed she was later put under pressure to withdraw her complaint and forced to file an affidavit in Mahila police station stating she had settled the dispute with the employer against which she received a demand draft of Rs 24 lakh from the employer.
She then addressed a second complaint to the police commissioner, and filed a private complaint before the magistrate court which passed an order dismissing the complaint and refused to register the complaint.
The HC said the magistrate was duty bound to send the complaint for police investigation under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as the offences were cognizable.
Without affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, the court shifted the burden on the petitioner to produce the evidence in support of allegations made in the complaint dated May 5, 2023 even when she made repeated requests to secure the evidence through police, the HC said.
While the complaint prima facie disclosed cognisable and non-compoundable offences including allegation of human trafficking, it was the duty of the police to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations more particularly as in the case of human trafficking, the consent of victim is immaterial, the court observed.