Sexual harassment case: HC rejects plea by accused IPS officer to consider his stand

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Chennai, Mar 23 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea by a former Special DGP, facing sexual harassment charges, to consider his stand in the case.

The court also called for a final report in the matter in eight weeks but said it will allow more time if required.

When the matter, taken up on its own by the court, came up today, counsel for the official told Justice N Anand Venkatesh that an impleading petition has been filed by the accused, explaining his stand in the case.

He alleged that the entire prosecution is attended with malafide and there is a larger conspiracy behind it.He further submitted that the court had commented in its earlier order on the availability of prima facie materials against the accused.

'Therefore, the stand of the accused must also be taken into consideration by this court, while passing orders in this writ petition,' the counsel said.

However, rejecting the plea, the judge observed that as a constitutional court, it has taken upon itself to monitor the investigation in this case, considering the larger public interest and the interest of the police force in the State.

In a criminal case, till a final report is filed before the jurisdictional court, the investigation is purely within the realm of the investigation officer (IO).

At the best, the court can only monitor the probe and and even a constitutional court cannot go beyond that and start issuing directions which may interfere with the course of investigation, the judge said.

He pointed out that in a similar case, the Supreme Court had made it very clear that investigation is within the domain of the police and courts ordinarily do not interfere unless it is done in breach of statutory provision, which puts personal liberty or property of the citizen in jeopardy, by improper use of power or abuse of power or it is tainted with animosity.

On the earlier ocasion, the court had made an observation on the availability of the prima facie materials only based on what had been collected by the IO during the course of investigation.

Such an observation has nothing to do with the merits of the case and by no stretch can it impact the defence to be taken by the accused.

The accused may not have any locus standi to insist the court to take into consideration his stand in the case, during the course of investigation. The defence of the accused person comes into play only during course of trial in criminal case.

If courts are to give any finding based on the stand taken by the accused during the course of investigation, it will directly interfere with the exclusive domain of the IO, the judge said.

'Therefore, at this stage, this Court cannot take into consideration the stand of the accused person and at best, this court can only ensure that the investigation is carried on in a free and fair manner,' the judge said.

He also directed the IO to proceed further with the investigation, complete the same at the earliest and file a final report within eight weeks.

The judge further said the court will extend the time allowed to submit the final report if the probe agency found any difficulty to present it within that period.

Time limit should not lead to a hasty investigation and therefore, what is important in this case, is to conduct an effective investigation, the judge added and posted the matter to April 30 for filing a status report.

The former special DGP rank official is facing sexual harassment charges after a subordinate woman IPS officer filed a complaint against him recently. PTI COR SA BN BN