A Mahila court in the city granted the police five days to question the 17 accused who were arrested in connection with the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Chennai. The order comes after the girl identified all the 17 suspects in an identification parade in Puzhal prison in the presence of two magistrates on Wednesday.
The girl, the magistrates, the stenographer and senior police officials were separated from the accused by a one-way glass in the conference room, where the identification parade was conducted. Each suspect was identified thrice by the girl, with change in clothes and position in the parade line-up.
According to reports, the survivor told the police that one of the accused used a blue injection, powder and some cream on her body while committing the crime. Since he had worked in the Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children in Chepauk, he knew about the drugs used to relieve women from their labour pain.
The incident came to light on July 17, after the girl confessed about her ordeal to her elder sister. According to the complaint given by the family of the survivor, the 17 men sexually assaulted the girl for over seven months. All the accused were working in the same gated community where the girl stayed, as security guards, lift operators and handymen. Of the 17 accused, three of them are in their 60s, four in their 50s, three in their 40s and the rest in their 30s and 20s.
Following the complaint, they were all taken into custody and booked under sections 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault), 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault) and 12 (punishment for sexual harassment upon a child) of the POCSO Act and sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
This incident sparked massive outrage with the accused getting thrashed by a few lawyers inside the Madras High Court complex after they were produced at the Mahila court.
The Madras High Court Advocates Association announced that they would not represent the accused in any trial, and any lawyer who represents them would be removed from the association.