Accused, complainant unavailable for recording statements

Under criticism from the Kerala High Court for going slow in the case of sexual assault filed against a Naval officer and his colleagues, the City Police are recouping their strategy.

In addition to expanding the investigating team and making V. Sunil Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Detachment, its head, the police are focussing on a case it had registered against the complainant on charge of creating a fake profile on Facebook and posting derogatory messages against Naval officers.

Dismissing the anticipatory bail petition moved by Lieutenant Ravi Kiran Kabdaula, a Marine Commando, on Monday, Justice Kemal B. Pasha had made the observation that the police should have registered a case of gang rape on the basis of the complaint by the woman.

The woman had complained to the police that Lt. Ravi Kiran and four of his colleagues had tried to harass her and disrobe her. Senior police officials pointed out that there was no ground in the original complaint to register a case for gang rape. Another complaint raised by the woman was that the accused had cut her hair short.

On the basis of her complaint, the accused were charged with Section 498 A (husband or relative subjecting a woman to cruelty) and Section 354 (assault or criminal force against woman with intent of outraging her modesty) of the IPC.

The investigators are now at a loss on how to proceed with the case, as neither the accused nor the complainant is available in the city for recording their statements. It is pointed out that the detailed procedure involved in arresting defence personnel is also holding the police back from going for an arrest.

The judge had said that the investigations done till now showed that the accused persons were superior officials in the Navy and “are being protected by the investigating officers unnecessarily.

This is a serious matter which has to be dealt with seriously by the police and a thorough investigation has to be carried out”.

At the same time, the police said the complainant was very vague in her statements about the alleged crime and contradicted herself in subsequent statements. The police also maintain that all the accused are serving personnel in the Navy, which included a Commodore and an officer’s spouse, and detaining them is not immediately warranted.

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