Walayar rape victims’ mother moves Kerala HC for action under SC/ST Act against former IO

A plea has been filed in the Kerala High Court by the mother of the victims in the Walayar rape case seeking action under the SC/ST Act against a former investigating officer (IO) for his allegedly “disgraceful” and “derogatory” remarks about her deceased daughters.

The court on Wednesday adjourned the case to July 20 and also appointed an amicus curiae to assist it in the matter.

The victims’ mother, in her plea filed through advocate P V Jeevesh, has challenged a sessions court order which did not take cognisance of the offence under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act claimed to have been committed by the officer according to the woman’s complaint.

The sessions court had only taken cognisance of the offence under section 23(1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the woman’s plea has said.

Section 23(1) of the POCSO Act states that “no person shall make any report or present comments on any child from any form of media or studio or photographic facilities without having complete and authentic information, which may have the effect of lowering his reputation or infringing upon his privacy”.

The petition has claimed that the investigating officer, who was heading the Special Investigation Team, during the trial of the case by a special court “intentionally made a comment, through a prominent visual media, which tends to lower the reputation, privacy and dignity” of the minor girls and their mother and “intentionally insult and humiliate” them.

It has contended that the sessions court order, to the extent it does not take cognisance of the offence under the SC/ST Act, was “palpably wrong, manifestly erroneous and demonstrably unsustainable”.

The woman has urged the High Court to set aside the May 11, 2022 order of the sessions court to that extent and to direct it to reconsider her complaint afresh with regard to the offence under the SC/ST Act.

The same order has already been challenged by the former investigating officer for taking cognisance of the offence under the POCSO Act and that matter too is pending in the High Court.

The special court had in August last year directed the CBI to carry out further investigation in the case.

The girls, who were siblings, were found dead under mysterious circumstance in their hut within a span of nearly two months in 2017 after their alleged sexual assault.

The eldest of the siblings, aged 13, was found hanging inside their hut on January 13, 2017 and her nine-year old sister had died on March 4, 2017 in the same manner.

Though the mother had alleged that it was a case of murder, Walayar police came to the conclusion that the girls were sexually abused in an unnatural way by five persons including a juvenile for nearly one year till they were forced to die by suicide by the accused by trespassing into their dwelling.

Allowing appeals filed by the state government and the mother of the children, the High Court had ordered a retrial in the case in January 2021, observing that there were “serious lapses” in the investigation and that there had been “miscarriage of justice”.

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The High Court had also set aside an October 2019 order of the special court under the POCSO Act acquitting the five accused for want of evidence.

A public outcry and protests had erupted in the state after the acquittal of the accused, seeking justice for the family of the girls.

The LDF government had handed over to the CBI the probe into the death of the two sisters shortly after the Kerala High Court ordered a retrial in the sensational case.

However, a chargesheet, submitted by the CBI before the POCSO court in December 2021, also said that the girls had died by suicide after they were sexually molested.

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