The Madras High Court on Friday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by April 25 to a public interest lititation petition filed by six women lawyers, seeking appointment of a high-ranking woman official to probe cases related to the incidents of sexual abuse in Pollachi.
The First Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani and M. Duraiswamy also ordered notice to the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority since the petitioners had sought establishment of one-stop crisis centres for providing medical care, legal aid and other assistance to victims of sexual crimes.
After hearing preliminary arguments advanced by senior counsel R. Vaigai, the judges directed Government Pleader (in charge) Jayaprakash Narayan to take notice on behalf of the State government as the third plea of the petitioners was to extend benefits of the witness protection scheme to the victims.
Chennai-based advocates G. Chamki Raj, A. Arulmozhi, B.S. Ajeetha, Adhilakshmi Logamurthy, R. Sudha and Kiruba Munusamy had filed the case accusing the State government of having created a hostile environment for a complainant, other victims as well as their families in the Pollachi sexual abuse case.
In a related development, Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan of the High Court sought to know the status of the investigation. He wondered why the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) was continuing to probe the Pollachi sexual abuse case despite a Government Order issued on March 13 transferring it to the CBI.
The judge raised the query during the hearing of a petition filed by a woman advocate, S. Vasuki of Ponneri. She had approached the court seeking constitution of a high-level judicial committee comprising serving as well as retired judges to monitor the CBI probe into the issue.
Subsequently, during the hearing of a case filed by journalist Nakkheeran Gopal against summons issued to him by the CB-CID in Coimbatore to inquire about certain videos released on his magazine’s YouTube channel regarding the sexual abuse case, State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan told the court that the process of transferring the case to CBI was on.
In the meantime, the CB-CID was continuing to collect materials and therefore it had summoned the journalist, he said. After recording his submission, the judge accepted a request made by Mr. Gopal’s counsel, P.T. Perumal, that his client may be permitted to appear before the CB-CID officials in Chennai on April 1.
Advocate P. Pugalendhi was the first to file a public interest litigation petition on the issue through his counsel M. Radhakrishnan. He had sought a court-monitored CBI probe into the issue and the First Division Bench had on March 16 directed the State government to respond to it by April 10.