TNM impact: TN govt lawyer removed for allegedly threatening child sexual abuse victims

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TNM impact: TN govt lawyer removed for allegedly threatening child sexual abuse victims

A TNM investigation on the alleged malpractices of Special Public Prosecutor Dhanalakshmi of the Tiruvallur Mahila Court, has led to her removal from the post. A directive from Tamil Nadu Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi on October 16 orders for her termination and for the removal of all case papers in her possession.

"The prosecutor who has been terminated through this government order must be released and all the case files in her possession must be given to the Tiruvallur Collector. Till a new prosecutor is appointed, a capable government officer must be given additional charge," it stated.

A report published by TNM on October 3 detailed three instances of alleged corruption by the government advocate. Complaints against the political appointee began in July this year when an advocate alleged that she demanded money from his client, who is an accused in a child sexual abuse case. Following this, in October, two more families approached the district police to complain about the prosecutor. The police in turn sent a detailed complaint to the  Collector and Home Secretary against advocate Dhanalakshmi. A copy of this complaint, according to police sources, will also be sent to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. 

Following this, an order has been finally issued for her removal.

The two families from Tiruvallur district alleged that Dhanalakshmi ML of the District Mahila Court – who was assigned to represent them had sided with the accused and on one occasion, even put the minor survivor in the same room as her alleged rapist and threatened her.

20-year-old Maria* who was allegedly raped five years ago, told TNM that Special Public Prosecutor Dhanalakshmi, who was handling the case, summoned her to the office after the chief examination in 2017.

"When I entered the room I saw that she had brought the accused Gopinath there as well. I was forced to sit across my rapist and have a conversation."

"I could barely speak when I saw my rapist. I started crying and I was frozen in fear," she recalled., "The Public Prosecutor then told me that I either have to marry the accused or take his money and drop the case. She threatened that if I didn’t agree, I will not win this case and that she won't let another lawyer fight it either," she added.

Meanwhile, a couple from Ponneri alleged that a school headmaster who had raped their eldest daughter had walked out of the Tiruvallur Mahila Court as a free man due to the prosecutor's interference. Advocate Dhanalakshmi allegedly attempted to coerce the couple into taking money from the accused and drop the case.

"She treated me like I was a beggar," said the father of the survivor, a daily wage worker. "She would tell me to get out of her office whenever we tried to talk to her. Once she was talking to other witnesses in the case but when I tried to go in, she didn't allow me to. The two witnesses she was talking to turned hostile in court," he alleged.

When TNM had met the advocate Dhanalakshmi at her office in the Mahila court, she vehemently denied the allegations.

Read: 'Marry him or take money': TN govt lawyer accused of threatening child sexual abuse victims