Victim forced to inspect case files after case meandered without any apparent cause

 A case of sexual harassment in the workplace has been meandering for nearly six years because a vital piece of forensic evidence was not filed before the trial court hearing the case. An inquiry has been ordered into why the report was submitted to the court as late as March this year while the FIR had been filed in July 2007.

On July 16, 2007, the N.M. Joshi Marg police station filed an FIR against and arrested three persons employed at the accounting firm KPMG on charges of sexual harassment under Sections 509 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code. They were subsequently released on bail.

Getting anxious that the matter was not progressing in court, the complainant sought an update on the case in May last year. Inspector Kishore Shinde wrote her back in June 2012 saying the case was stayed under Section 258 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr Pc), under which a magistrate has the power to stop proceedings in certain cases.

However, Mr. Shinde had given her wrong information. While one of the accused did make an application for stoppage of proceedings in 2009, it has been pending in court since then.

Upon being given access to inspect the case files, the complainant found that the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Mumbai, submitted to the police in November 2008 and certifying the authenticity of the offending emails sent to her, was missing. Receiving no reply to an RTI query seeking details from the police, she approached the deputy commissioner of police, the first appellate authority under the RTI act. The FSL report was given to her in October 2012, a copy of which was also sent to the public prosecutor.

However, the report was not submitted to the court on any of the subsequent dates in December, January or February, when the matter came up for hearing. According to the complainant, charges were yet to be framed and no one was giving reasons for the failure to file the report in court — this, despite the public prosecutor finally opposing the application for stoppage of proceedings last December.

The public prosecutor, in his submission, said that the accused’s application for stoppage of proceedings was untenable. He said the same accused had tried to stall the investigation earlier and had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court to quash the FIR, which he later withdrew. There was significant evidence and witness statements were recorded in the charge sheet filed in 2007, he submitted. The prosecutor also said drew the court’s attention to the existence of the FSL’s forensic report dated November 2008 and said, therefore, that the contention of the accused that there was no significant evidence was misleading. He sought that the application for stoppage of proceedings under Section 258 of Cr.PC be rejected and charges framed against the accused.

Despite the public prosecutor’s explicit directions last year, the FSL report was not submitted to the trial court till March 22, 2013. Another accused filed a discharge application on February 23, saying there was no evidence in the case, about which the prosecutor was to file his say on March 22. The application was later withdrawn. The same person filed a plea for condonation of delay of 46 days in the sessions court to file a criminal revision application seeking to quash the charges against him, claiming there was no evidence. This was granted on March 5. The applicant was reportedly waiting for the FSL report submitted on December 7, 2012.

However, records of the court proceedings clearly show that the FSL report was submitted on March 22, 2012. The complainant challenged the decision in the High Court and Justice Roshan Dalvi set aside the sessions court order while allowing the accused to make a fresh plea.

  • Upon inspecting case files, victim found crucial forensic report was not filed before trial court

  • The Forensic Science Laboratory report authenticated the offending emails sent to victim