A special court in Thiruvananthapuram recently rejected the plea of an accused, booked for the alleged sexual assault of a school girl, for access to CCTV recordings of the assault visuals on the basis of which the accused was nabbed by the police. Incidentally, the prosecution in the case cited the Supreme Court’s direction in the Malayalam actor assault case to argue that assault visuals should not be handed over to the accused.
The case is about an incident from 2017, where a 16-year-old school girl in Thiruvananthapuram district was allegedly sexually assaulted by a 27-year-old resident in the district named Lal. According to the prosecution’s case, the accused who was travelling on a bike through Kochar Road near Sasthamangalam allegedly sexually assaulted the girl, who was returning from school. Though the girl had tried to run after the man to nab him, he escaped.
Later, the CCTV visuals which the residents’ association in the region accessed were instrumental in arresting the man. The accused has been booked under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 7 (sexual assault) and 8 (punishment for sexual assault) of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
During the trial, while the accused sought the fast-track court’s permission to access the assault visuals, the prosecution argued that it could be a hindrance to the privacy of the survivor and that there are chances of the visuals being misused.
In the Kerala actor assault case pertaining to the abduction and sexual assault of a leading woman actor in Malayalam, the Supreme Court in 2019 had passed an order stating that assault visuals cannot be handed over to accused. Actor Dileep, key accused in the case, had moved court with the plea to access the visuals. However, the SC later granted permission for the accused only to view the visuals in presence of the court, so as to protect the survivor’s privacy.
According to sources, during the trial in the POCSO case in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, the prosecution led by Special Public Prosecutor Advocate RS Vijay Mohan, cited the SC order in the actor assault case to argue that the accused’s plea should be rejected. Based on the arguments, Judge R Jayakrishnan of the fast-track Court in Thiruvananthapuram rejected the plea of the accused to access the visuals.