Sexual harassment case: Kerala HC quashes anticipatory bail granted to Civic Chandran

Justice A Badharudeen directed the accused to surrender before the investigating officer on a day within seven days from today for subjecting himself to interrogation.
Kerala High Court (File Photo| A Sanesh, EPS)
Kerala High Court (File Photo| A Sanesh, EPS)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday quashed the anticipatory bail granted by Kozhikode Sessions Court to writer and activist Civic Chandran, an accused in a case for allegedly attempting to molest a Dalit woman writer.

In another case, a Single Judge recently granted anticipatory bail to him after expunging the 'sexually provocative dress' remarks made by the Kozhikode Sessions Court.

While cancelling the anticipatory bail, Justice A Badharudeen directed the accused to surrender before the investigating officer on a day within seven days from today (Thursday) at 9 am for subjecting himself to interrogation and medical examination if any for the purpose of investigation.

Activist and author
Civic Chandran

"In the event of any arrest, he shall be produced before the Special Judge on the date of the arrest itself," the court said. When he's produced, if a regular bail application is filed, after serving a copy of the same to the counsel appearing for the victim as well as the prosecutor in advance, the special judge can consider the plea on "merits and pass orders as early as possible, preferably on the same day itself or without much delay, since there is no statutory bar in granting regular bail in an appropriate case", said the court.

The court further ordered the investigating officer to provide proper medical aid to the accused if he requires medical attention after the arrest. The court issued the order while allowing the appeals filed by the state government and the victim seeking to quash the bail order.

The Kozhikode Sessions court had observed that the offences charged under different Sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would not prima facie stand against him. The available materials produced in court "clearly showed that this is an attempt to tarnish the status of the accused in society. He is fighting against the caste system and is involved in a number of agitations", it said.

The government in its appeal said that the finding of the sessions court that the accused had no knowledge of the victim belonging to a scheduled caste was against the facts of the case and such a conclusion was without any legal basis. The knowledge of the accused was purely a question of fact and the same could be verified only after questioning the accused.

The investigation so far conducted undoubtedly revealed that the allegations against the accused were true and custodial interrogation of the accused was highly required for effective investigation of the case. The sessions court seriously erred in stating that there was no prima facie case against the accused.

Besides, the sessions court should have considered that the delay in filing the complaint occurred due to the mental trauma and also due to the untimely demise of the father of the victim. The sessions court also should have considered the fact that the offence alleged against the accused was serious. The reasoning given by the sessions court for granting him anticipatory bail was perverse and untenable.

The prosecution case was that on April 16, 2022, the complainant had arranged a function in connection with her book publishing. After the function, the accused sexually assaulted the complainant and the accused outraged the modesty of the victim with the knowledge that the complainant belonged to a scheduled caste.

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