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Karnataka HC Restricts Visitors Meeting Woman Allegedly Paraded Naked in Belagavi

Karnataka HC Restricts Visitors Meeting Woman Allegedly Paraded Naked in Belagavi

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NEW DELHI, Dec 16: Taking exception to the political parties sending their teams to visit he already humiliated woman, the Karnataka High Court on Saturday restricted the stream of people visiting the Belagavi assault victim.

The woman was stripped and beaten up by a few people of her village after her son eloped with a girl she was to get married with someone else. Considering the trauma she is undergoing, the HC said the continuous stream of people visiting her should be restricted.

“The visit of people to the hospital to see the victim, in the circumstances, is not unusual. This Court normally would not like to restrict the freedom of movement of any citizen; however, considering the fact that the victim has suffered unbearable trauma and she has been undergoing medical treatment, in our considered opinion, the flow of visitors is likely to affect the health condition of the victim and disturb the ongoing medical treatment as well,” Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale said in his order on Saturday.

“Therefore, we deem it appropriate to restrict the visitors in the best interests of the victim and to secure undisturbed medical treatment. In the above backdrop, we direct that no person, individual, groups, associations, political parties, or the like shall visit the place of the victim except with the prior written permission of the medical officer in-charge of the hospital or the doctor treating the victim,” the order said

In an urgent hearing in the judge’s chamber on Saturday, the Chief Justice issued the order after noticing a news report on television that, “The Belagavi incident victim is to be visited by the representatives of National Human Rights Commission as well as by the delegation of a political party.” However, the HC said “the order shall not prevent the family members of the victim, the official representatives of Statutory Authorities/ Commissions or the Investigating Agencies to visit the victim in a need based manner.”

The court, on December 12, had on its own taken cognisance of the news of the incident in a village in Hukkeri Taluk in Belagavi District. While hearing the petition on December 14, it had directed the personal presence of the Belagavi Commissioner in the Court on December 18 to file an additional report on the investigation into the incident. The court had ordered that the offenders should be arrested immediately.

Expressing anguish, the High Court had termed the incident as an “extraordinary case” and had said, “it will have extraordinary treatment at our hands.” The woman was allegedly assaulted, paraded naked and tied to an electric pole after her son eloped with the girl in the early hours of December 11.

A division bench had also summoned the Police Commissioner of Belagavi along with the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) to be personally present in the court on December 18 to file an additional report. The court has also directed that the assailants should be arrested immediately.

Taking serious exception to the incident, the court observed, “This is a shame to all of us. We cannot expect this situation after 75 years of freedom. It is a question for us, are we going into the 21st century or going back to the 17th century? “Are we going to see equality or progressiveness or are we going back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Our anguish makes us use such harsh words. We are exceeding but we can’t help. We feel the least we can do is express our anguish in some harsh words,” the bench said.

The court further observed that “this (incident) will be affecting the future generation. Are we creating a society where there is a chance to dream for a better future or we are creating a society where somebody will feel it is better to die than to live? Where there is no respect for a lady.” During the arguments, the court noted that the accused were also from the SC/ST Community and therefore the case does not attract provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

On December 12, the court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident based on news reports. During the hearing the court had said a dangerous precedent was being set where there was no fear of law. “A dangerous signal is being sent that there is no fear of law. If this happens in Karnataka which is a progressive state, this is unfortunate after independence. No fear of the law is very very disturbing,” they said.

The Court said it was speechless that the Women’s Commission was not in the picture yet. “With a very heavy heart, we have to say that the Commission for Women acts on what somebody says in a TV debate but when this is done where is the commission? Have they taken cognisance? Any women’s rights or human rights commission have done anything? No personal visit to the spot or family. We are speechless what can we say.”

The Court said it was an extraordinary case and it will get “extraordinary treatment at our hands.” Since the accused is absconding, the High Court said, “Tell your inspector not to have lunch and dinner till he is arrested.” They also directed the Advocate General to check if there is any compensation scheme available for the victim-woman. “Come up with some monetary scheme for this lady and her family,” it said.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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