Punjab and Haryana High Court directs stricter protocols in sextortion cases : The Tribune India

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Punjab and Haryana High Court directs stricter protocols in sextortion cases

Verify payments, act in cases of false information, High Court tells police

Punjab and Haryana High Court directs stricter protocols in sextortion cases

Photo for representational purpose only. Tribune file



Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, February 29

In a significant judgment liable to change the way the complainants in cases of sextortion and false sexual assaults take a U-turn, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday directed the investigators to verify before filing cancellation report whether payment or consideration was made to the officials or the complainant for compromise or retracting from initial statements.

The public servants concerned were also directed to consider initiation of proceedings for violation of Section 182 of the IPC where evidence showed absence of duress, threat, intimidation or coercion. The provision deals with false information, with intent to cause public servant to use lawful power to the injury of another person. Senior police officers were also directed to step in cases where complainant/victims resiled from their initial versions.

Justice Anoop Chitkara also directed the order’s forwarding to Haryana Director-General of Police (DGP) for compliance and his Punjab and Chandigarh counterparts for information and to consider the issuance of similar directions.

Justice Chitkara was hearing a case where the complainant/informant turned hostile and did not support her initial version in the FIR, indicating that the “initial implication was probably honey trapping and sextortion”

Justice Chitkara asserted it was not an isolated case where the victims of sexual assault retracted from their statements after leveling serious allegations. As such, it was essential and appropriate to issue the directions to be conveyed to all police officers concerned and investigators

Justice Chitkara asserted investigators or supervisory officers handling sexual offense cases were required to incorporate reports into police proceedings when complainants or victims retracted from their initial statements to combat sextortion and unfounded accusations. They were then obligated to promptly forward the case file to the Superintendent of Police. He, in turn, was instructed to either personally handle the investigation or assign it to another investigator, ensuring proper monitoring by an IPS officer or Deputy Superintendent of Police.

The SP concerned was also mandated to convey the reasons for not “filing” the complaint to the DGP, if there was a decision not to pursue prosecution or a different stance was taken. The DGP would then take a final decision personally or by assigning it to an officer within the IPS cadre. Failure to comply with the directives was to be documented in the service records of the officers concerned.

“Such directions aim to secure the interests and welfare of both the survivors of sexual assault so that they are not dominated and highhanded into making illegal compromises, as well as of an alleged accused person, whose truth is yet to be tested, and innocent people are not trapped by malicious allegations of sexual assault,” Justice Chitkara asserted, while fixing March 31 as the deadline for the directions.

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