The court was hearing a rape survivor’s request for police protection, who said she was forced to go into hiding facing harassment from the accused as well as the cops.

Mofiya Parveen, the Kerala law student who died by suicide allegedly over dowry harassment
news Court Monday, November 29, 2021 - 19:57

The police have an obligation to act with empathy and also follow the victim and witness protection protocols, the Kerala High Court said on Monday and added that no one will come forward with complaints if they are subjected to ridicule by the force. "People often do horrible things (like suicide) when they are spurned by the first authority (usually the police) which they approach, as we saw recently," the high court said in a reference to the Mofiya Parveen case. Mofia, a 21-year-old third year law student, died by suicide after a police officer allegedly misbehaved with her when she went to the station to lodge a complaint over dowry harassment and domestic violence against her husband and in-laws.

The observation by Justice Devan Ramachandran came during the hearing of a plea for police protection, where the survivor has alleged that she was being harassed by not only the accused, but by certain police officers as well and as a result, she has been forced to go into hiding by residing with a close relative of hers.

She has alleged that the police officers in question were acting in collaboration with the accused in the case. During the hearing on Monday, police told the court that a woman survivor liaison/protection officer was assigned to the complainant.

However, the court did not buy the contention, saying it was "extremely obfuscatory" as the survivor had to go to the police station with an application for medical termination of her pregnancy, which was a result of the alleged rape.

The court asked why the woman had to come to the station if she had been assigned a liaison officer. The liaison or protection officer is supposed to advise the survivor about her rights and the legal procedures, just like a lawyer would do, the court said.

The court also noted that the statement filed by the police does not say what the liaison officer has done till now to help the survivor.

It said that if survivor and witness protection protocols were being implemented in this manner, then survivors would get no benefit, except for paper service.

The court directed the liaison officer to immediately meet the survivor and advise her about her rights and the legal procedures that would come, while ensuring her identity is not exposed and she is not subjected to further disrepute.

It also directed that steps be taken immediately for medical examination of the survivor as provided under Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code. With the direction the court listed the matter for further hearing on December 6.

The survivor had earlier moved the high court, claiming that the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case was not taking steps to conduct DNA test of the foetus. The survivor has alleged that "under the guise" of complying with the high court's October 13 order to provide her and her minor child police protection by officers from another police station instead of the one where the crime was registered, the IO was not taking the steps required for carrying out the DNA test.

She had told the court that she does not wish to continue with the pregnancy and steps in furtherance of that have to be taken by the IO of the case.

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.   

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those  undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726 

Click here for working helplines across India.

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