KOCHI: The victim in the actor abduction and sexual assault case on Monday submitted before the Kerala High Court that there were attempts to harass and intimidate her during the cross-examination, which left her weeping.
The counsel submitted that the victim thought a woman judge will be more comfortable for her and she had approached the high court seeking to constitute a special court presided by a woman judge. It was allowed by the High Court. "But now see the hardship she had to undergo? During the trial, she was forced to undergo an ordeal of cross-examination for about 9 to 10 days, in which irrelevant and unnecessary questions maligning her character were raised," the counsel said.
When the petitions filed by the victim and the state government seeking to transfer the trial in the case from the Ernakulam Additional Special Sessions Court to another court came up for hearing, Senior Advocate S Sreekumar, counsel for the victim, submitted that she was compelled to speak about the horrific incident, which no woman could dare to speak in public, before a large number of advocates. The judge could not control the court. No judge would have allowed putting such questions to a victim of a horrific sexual crime.
According to the victim, there should be a fair, transparent and impartial trial in a criminal case. But it was not possible in this case as the court was biased, the counsel said. "Where can I go for justice when it is manifest bias and it is demonstrated that the judge was in favour of the accused. The court was not impartial in the process of the trial," submitted the victim.
When the court asked about the allegation against the trial court, the counsel for the victim replied that the submissions were made based on her experience which she had undergone inside the trial court. The counsel submitted that though the High Court had transferred the special judge as part of the general transfer, she approached it seeking to continue here. "Why is the judge so particular to have the trial of the case?" the counsel asked.
Appearing for the state government, Senior Public Prosecutor Suman Chakravarthy submitted that the prosecution has adjusted to the maximum to avoid any embarrassment to the trial. However, since the partisan attitude of the judge crossed all boundaries, the state had moved this petition. When the prosecution expresses a lack of confidence in the judge, the proper course would have been to write to the High Court informing about this. But the presiding judge chose not to do so and continued the trial.
The state has given the deposition of the victim in a sealed cover, to demonstrate how vulgar questions were put to the victim during cross-examination which was not prevented by the court. Even after filing a petition before the trial court for stopping the proceedings, it proceeded to hear all dormant applications including the one for altering the charge against the accused and started posting the same.
These petitions were not heard by the court despite specific insistence for a hearing by the prosecution. Despite producing a stay order by the High Court, the trial court said that the stay was only for trial and not for pending applications and started posting and hearing those petitions with an endorsement that the prosecutor was absent.
The state further pointed out that the cross-examination of the victim lasted 11 days and on many of the occasions it continued up to 7 pm. This was a clear violation of the Supreme Court guidelines. The victim had to explain about the brutal rape in front of 20 to 30 advocates. Around 19 advocates were represented for one of the accused persons. "This defeated the entire purpose of the in-camera trial. During the trial, all prosecution witnesses had to go back with a heavy heart and in tears," said the prosecution.
The counsel for the victim alleged that the judge directly contacted the Central Forensic Science Laboratory for a report on the examination of the memory card and handed over the report to the accused, without giving a copy to the prosecution.
After the conclusion of the argument, the court reserved its orders and extended the stay for the trial till Friday.