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SC Sets Aside HC Order on Giving Victim's Statement to BJP Leader Chinmayanand in Rape Case Against Him

File photo of rape-accused BJP leader Chinmayanand.

File photo of rape-accused BJP leader Chinmayanand.

The Supreme Court said utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained in sexual exploitation cases.

The Supreme Court Thursday set aside an Allahabad High Court order allowing former Union Minister and BJP leader Chinmayanand to get a copy of statement of a woman law student recorded before a magistrate in connection with a rape case against him, saying utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained in sexual exploitation cases.

The top court, however, noted that by the time the alleged rape victim moved the top court against the high court's November 7, 2019 order, the accused was already supplied with the certified copy of her statement recorded by a judicial magistrate under section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Though, a copy of the statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code was made over to the accused, we must set aside the order passed by the High Court and lay down that under no circumstances copies of statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code can be furnished till appropriate orders are passed by the court after taking cognizance in the matter, a bench comprising Justices U U Lalit,Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat said.

Writing the judgement, Justice Lalit said the filing of the charge-sheet by itself, does not entitle an accused to copies of any of the relevant documents including statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) unless the trial court takes cognizance of the charge sheet and issue the summons or warrants to the accused to face trial.

In our view, the High Court completely erred in appreciating the directions issued by this court, especially in a matter where the offences alleged against accused are of sexual exploitation. In such matters utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained. In our view, the High Court completely failed in that behalf, the apex court said. Statement recorded under section 164 of the CrPC before a judicial magistrate is admissible as an evidence during the trial and has more force than the version given to the police during the investigation.

The top court referred to various provisions of CrPC and the apex court's judgement and held that the accused is not entitled to copy of any document or statement related to the investigation till the time trial court takes cognizance of the charge sheet and starts the process to commence the trial. The Shahjahanpur-based law student had come in appeal before the Supreme Court against the high court's order, but later did not pursue the case.

The top court had earlier also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to set up an SIT headed by an IG-rank officer to look into the charges levelled by the woman, who had gone missing after accusing Chinmayanand of harassment, and was found in Rajasthan. On September 21, 2019, Chinmayanand was arrested by the SIT and sent to jail.

The 23-year-old student was also booked on alleged charges of extortion.


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