When rape case became Air Force vs TN police
A magistrate had ordered in favour of handing over the suspect to the Air Force for court martial against which the State police had appealed.
CHENNAI: Alittle over a month ago, the Madras High Court directed the Union government to ensure that Internal Complaints Committees are set up in the Armed Forces in accordance with the mandates of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act and also, to sensitise the armed personnel by giving them gender-sensitive awareness training.
The High Court’s directions came out of a jurisdictional turf war between the State Police and Air Force authorities while investigating a sexual assault complaint against a flight lieutenant.
The blame fell squarely on the Air Force as the woman flight lieutenant had approached the Coimbatore police in 2021 only after she was anguished by the way the Air Force Administrative College (AFAC), Coimbatore, handled her complaint. She was humiliated, and hence, threatened to withdraw her complaint.
However, a magistrate had ordered in favour of handing over the suspect to the Air Force for court martial against which the State police had appealed.
One of the reasons cited by the Air Force authorities for their unwillingness to hand-over custody of the suspect was because of the inhuman treatment meted out to some of the suspects in the past like Sathankulam custodial death case and other custodial deaths.
The suspect was tried before court martial and was convicted, but with the way the Air Force handled the victim’s complaint initially, the moral high ground was always a shaky terrain.