System not friendly to victims fighting sexual abuse: Madras High Court Judge

Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed the order based on a petition filed by a victim seeking to quash the summons issued to her by a trial court.
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has quashed a sexual abuse case filed by a Chennai woman in 2020, saying that the system is not friendly to sexual abuse victims and they have to undergo embarrassing moments in courts which would add to their mental agony.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh passed the order based on a petition filed by a victim seeking to quash the summons issued to her by a trial court where she was made to sit in the court for long hours without any fruitful proceedings on August 11, 2023.

The judge reasoned that the trial, pending in a Chennai court, would bring no useful outcome as the perpetrator has not been identified yet.

“The case brings to light the stark reality in sexual abuse cases. Not many are willing to come to court and fight (to get justice) for the abuse they underwent. Even for those who want to fight and establish their right, the system does not seem to be friendly. Such victims will have to undergo embarrassing moments in the court,” the judge said in a recent order.

Apart from quashing the witness summons issued to the petitioner, the court was also inclined to quash the proceeding pending before the fifth metropolitan magistrate court in Egmore.

The judge noted, “In the facts of the present case, this court is forced to pass such an extraordinary order taking into consideration the dignity and interest of the petitioner. A criminal trial doesn't need to go on just to dabble with an incident involving sexual abuse even without identifying the accused.”

He added that if this is allowed, it is the victim who will actually be “embarrassed and vilified” and the so-called accused person will go scot-free since he was not identified by anyone in the case. “If the case is allowed to proceed further it will be a mockery upon womanhood,” the judge said.

The trial court had taken cognizance of the matter based on an FIR filed by the Anna Nagar police in 2020.

The woman had filed a complaint at the police station saying a man, driving a motorcycle, groped her while she was on her morning walk.

She had also collected CCTV footage from a neighbouring house and handed it over to the police.

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