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‘Custody Of Minor Rape Victim Can’t Be Given To Accused’s Kin’: Gauhati High Court Takes Suo Moto Cognizance, Stays Lower Court Order

Dealing with a suo moto case concerning the plight of a minor rape victim, the Gauhati High Court has stayed a trial court’s order grating the victim’s custody to accused’s sister-in-law after observing that the same will not be in the interest of the victim girl. The girl, aged about 12-15 years, working as a domestic help, was allegedly raped and sexually abused by the house owner. She was brought from Nepal as a domestic help in the year 2017. A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Manash Ranjan Pathak took the suo moto cognizance after a missing report was filed by one Aka Kalung alleging that his minor domestic help was missing since 1 March this year. After the girl was recovered the next day, she was reluctant to go to the informant’s house. Later, her custody was given to the Child Welfare Committee wherein the statements given by her revealed that she was allegedly raped and sexually abused by the informant. The father of the victim had moved an application before the trial court seeking her custody, however, the Court had directed the CCI to hand over her custody to a local guardian who was sister-in-law of the accused person. The revision petition of the said order was later dismissed. “The fact of the matter is that the girl child who is a victim, is presently in the custody of the CCI, Roing. What this Court has to see in its capacity now as a Parens Patriae is only the best interest of the child and since the local guardian to whom the custody is being handed over is a close related of no one else but the accused, in our opinion, it would not serve the interest of justice and definitely it would not be in the best interest of the victim child.” The Court observed.

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