Sunday, January 29, 2023

Calcutta HC directs gram panchayat to install street lights in case of minor’s rape

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The Calcutta High Court has directed the Panpur-Keutia Gram Panchayat to take appropriate steps for providing street lights in Mukundapur locality under it within a period of four weeks.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)  filed by a practicing advocate of the High Court alleging improper investigation in the rape of a minor girl by two drunk men.

It is alleged in the PIL that after the incident, the father of the victim had an altercation with the accused and he was attacked with a sharp weapon by the accused persons resulting in injuries and that the mother of the victim was threatened.  

On the direction of the High Court, a report in the form of affidavit on behalf of the Detective Department, Barrackpore Police Commissionerate, it has disclosed that after receipt of the complaint of gangrape, Basudebpur Police Station registered a case dated 05.06.2022 under Sections 376DA of the IPC and Section 6 of the POCSO Act. The statement of the victim was recorded and medical examination was done and the victims’ clothes were seized.  

The report further reveals that two persons named in the FIR were arrested on the same day and on the next day, the statement of the victim and her mother were recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC in the Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, 1st Court,Special Court under POCSO Act, Barrackpore.  

The report discloses about the seizure of other items and medico-legal examination of the arrested accused persons. The report further discloses that on 10.06.2022 as per the direction of Commissioner of Police, Barrackpore Commissionerate dated 10.06.2022, the control of the investigation was taken over by the Detective Department, Barrackpore Police Commissionerate and that the statement of 20 witnesses along with the seizure witness was recorded and the same were video-graphed.  

The report relating to attempt to murder by brother of one of the accused persons upon the maternal uncle of the victim girl was also registered and the arrests were made. As per the said report, the investigation in both the cases is under progress and the family members of the victim have been provided adequate protection.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner fairly states that in view of the progress of investigation which has been disclosed in the report, she doesn’t call for any exception and the only surviving issue is about the lack of street lights in the concerned Gram Panchayat, namely Panpur-Keutia Gram Panchayat (respondent No.4).  

The  counsel appearing for the electricity company has submitted that the electricity company has no objection in providing electricity for street lights subject to compliance, but no application has been made by the Gram Panchayat for the same and that on making such application, the needful will be done without any delay. The counsel for the electricity company has also not disputed that no street lights exist in the concerned area at Mukundapur under the Panpur-Keutia Gram Panchayat.  

It is therefore observed by the Bench that it is the responsibility of the Gram Panchayat to provide street lights especially when absence of the same becomes a safety issue for the residents.
“Hence, we direct the respondent No.4 to take appropriate step for providing street lights in the locality concerned i.e. Mukundapur under the Panpur-Keutia Gram Panchayat within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. On making an application by the respondent No.4 to the respondent No.5 (WBSEDCL), expeditious action in accordance with law will be taken by the electricity company to facilitate the street light connection in the locality,” the order reads.

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