The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a reply from the office of the District Judge of Saket courts here on a petition alleging that the file of a 20-year-old rape case had gone missing from the custody of the trial court resulting in the accused roaming around freely while the victim was crying for justice.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Darmar Murugesan and Justice V. K. Jain asked the District Judge’s office to file a status report on the file by January 30.
This shocking state of affairs in the trial court regarding this case came to light on a Right to Information (RTI) application by a man.
Responding to the RTI application, the Public Information Officer of the Saket district courts had stated that the case file marked 464/1993 of the Connaught Place police station in New Delhi was missing.
The disappearance of the file from the court was attributed to its passing through several trial court judges and the record keepers over the years.
The local police had arrested the accused following lodging of an FIR in the case and later got his judicial remand from the court. On completion of investigation into the allegations, they had filed a charge-sheet in the case but the case has not reached the trial stage.
The petitioners, advocates Shweta Singh and Sarika Mehta, urged the High Court to pass a direction for initiating trial proceedings against the accused afresh.
According to the petitioner, the 16-year-old victim had lost her way while going to her maternal aunt in 1993. The mother of the accused had taken her to her house promising to drop her at her residence. However, the son of the woman allegedly sexually assaulted her there, the petitioners stated.
For years together, the case went unheard. When the RTI applicant approached the trial court seeking information regarding the status of the case, the court officer swung into action and ordered a vigilance inquiry into the file going missing, the petitioners submitted.
Demanding action against the court staff responsible for the disappearance of the file, the petitioners urged the Court to pass directions for creation of a website to protect medical evidence and court files in future.
The petitioners also noted in their petition that the authorities concerned took about one year to provide information regarding the case to the RTI applicant.