Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Justice hangs in balance for Williamnagar rape victim

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SHILLONG: It is going to be one year on December 13 when a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped by 16 boys at Williamnagar, East Garo Hills but the victim is yet to get justice as the trial has been delayed following various restraints and with no foreseeable chance, the case will be wrapped up this winter.

After the Fast Track Court Tura rejected the fake birth certificates provided by the accused aimed at showing that many of them are minors, the lawyer of the accused approached the Meghalaya High Court challenging the order of the fast track court. Four accused in the case had submitted fake certificates to prove that they were minors.

The inability of the Tura Fast Track Court to pursue the matter as it has to await an order from the High Court, has delayed the whole process and the hope of disposing off the case this year and deliver justice to the victim, is still hanging in balance.

“The case could have been completed 2-3 months back but due to the various restraints during the trial process, the same could not be achieved and it will only be till next year that we will be able to go ahead with the case,” Public Prosecutor, PL Sebastian said here on Sunday.

Stating that the late submission of the forensic science lab report to the court in the month of September has prevented the court from pursuing with the matter, “But we however, went ahead with the recording of the statements of all the 22 witnesses,” Sebastian said.

The approach made by the defence party by challenging the age of the accused has further delayed the procedure as the court had to wait for the submission of the certificates by the accused to prove their age which, only to find out later that the certificates mentioning that the accused were minors, were fake.

“A bail was applied by stating that the accused were minors, but it was rejected and unsatisfied with the judgment the FTC, the defence party later approached the High Court challenging the order passed by the FTC,” the PP said.

The court was supposed to record the statement of the last witness, i.e. the IO but the same had to be adjourned in November following an application submitted by the counsel of the accused stating that the matter is currently in the High Court.

When asked about the tentative date to continue with the next hearing, Sebastian said “We don’t know when will the next hearing be held as the matter still lies with the High Court, and the possibility of completing this case this year is out of the question as holiday season is setting in,” adding that the matter will only be pursued next year when the order from the High Court has arrived.

Sebastian also informed that unlike other big cities where the higher and the lower courts are located in close vicinity, “Here the situation is very different as the lower court is situated very far from the High Court and the whole process of going up and coming down takes a lot of time.”

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