The Madras High Court Bench here has stayed disciplinary proceedings initiated against two policemen accused of stripping a woman naked inside the Sempatti police station in Dindigul in February 2001 and assaulting her husband in the guise of investigating an unregistered theft case.

Justice R.S. Ramanathan granted the interim stay after counsel for the two Head Constables contended that there had been an undue delay of over eight years in initiating the proceedings. Counsel also pointed out that the prime accused, a police inspector, had been allowed to retire from service.

According to an enquiry conducted by a Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO), the policemen picked up the couple from their house at 1 a.m. on February 21, 2001 in connection with a theft complaint without even registering a First Information Report. The woman was sexually abused and her husband assaulted.

Unable to bear the humiliation, the woman attempted to commit suicide by jumping into a well after she was released by the police. This led to a large-scale public uproar in the locality.

G. Devi, district secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), lodged a complaint with the District Crime Branch (DCB) police.

The DCB registered a criminal case against the inspector and seven constables on the basis of a statement obtained from the victim when she was undergoing treatment in a government hospital. However, after a few years, the prosecutors filed a final report before the trial court and closed the case of sexual abuse as a "mistake of fact."

In the meantime, the Government, acting on the basis of the RDO’s enquiry report, issued an order on August 31, 2006 requesting the Director General of Police to take departmental action against the policemen and intimate the results to the Government. The G.O. was issued by the Public (Law and Order-A) Department.

"Even though nearly three years had gone by, no action was taken. Therefore, a writ petition came to be filed in 2009 questioning the G.O. This Honourable Court was pleased to order notice. After coming to know about the institution of the writ, the Superintendent of Police issued charge memos on June 30, 2009," the petitioners said and sought to quash the charge memos.

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