Calcutta HC grants permission to Hanskhali witnesses to seek protection, psychiatric help

In a landmark order, the Calcutta High Court has directed the concerned authorities to provide necessary psychiatric/psychological treatment to the family members of a minor girl who was allegedly gang-raped at Hanskhali in Nadia district on April 4 by the son of an influential political leader and his associates.

The girl, whose family was allegedly prevented from taking her to a doctor, died of excessive bleeding a day later. Her body was cremated by those involved in the crime at an unlicensed crematorium without any autopsy or a death certificate.

The family and witnesses in the case have also been granted permission by the bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj to apply to the competent authority of the district, seeking protection.

In extreme cases, such protection may involve change of identities and relocation at the state’s cost. The competent authority in every district is headed by the District and Sessions Judge with the Superintendent of Police as member and the head of the prosecution in the district as its member secretary.

The high court, after hearing a petition by Anindya Sundar Das on April 12, had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the matter.

Das moved the court again on Tuesday, praying for directions to the state to provide protection to the members of the victim’s family and witnesses in the case under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018. He also prayed for psychiatric/psychological treatment for them to get out of the trauma.

It was submitted by the petitioner’s counsel, Phiroze Edulji, how one Afroze Sarkar, a Trinamool Congress block president in Bhagabangola, had issued threats to anybody who spoke against the gang-rape.

The high court took cognizance of this matter. It also referred to a judgement in which the Supreme Court had directed that the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 is to be treated as law under Articles 141/142 of the Constitution till the enactment of suitable legislations on the subject.

Till such applications are made to the competent authority by the family and witnesses and it takes measures in accordance with the threat perception involved, the state has been directed by the high court to provide adequate security so they come to no harm or are coerced in any other manner by those involved in the crime.

The matter will come up for hearing again on May 2.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here