Less than two weeks after TNM reported on a Special Public Prosecutor's attempts to save a child-rape accused in Perambalur district, the Tamil Nadu Home Department has terminated advocate Chitra Devi from her post in the Mahila Court. The government has found the lawyer guilty of tutoring minor victims in multiple cases of sexual abuse and turning them hostile in court.
According to the termination order dated December 20 from the Home Department, in the last month alone 10 cases disposed by the Mahila Court in Perambalur have ended in acquittal of the accused. The District Superintendent of Police had told the Collector that the victims had turned hostile in all these cases. In November, TNM reported about one such case where 17-year-old Shanthi* who had been allegedly abducted, raped and forced into a marriage had turned hostile when the case came to court a year later. An audio recording, purportedly a conversation between the minor and Public Prosecutor G Chitradevi, revealed that a day before the hearing, Shanthi was told to lie in court and deny the rape, claim that she did not know the accused and not listen to what the police had to say. The Home Department not only confirmed this conversation between the lawyer and the minor but also revealed that Chitradevi had tutored several other victims in a similar fashion.
"A close look into the above cases has further revealed that Tmt D Chitra, Special Public Prosecutor, Mahila Court, Perambalur was the main cause as she was tutoring the victims to be hostile and support the accused," reads the order from Niranajan Mardi, Additional Chief Secretary. It further cites the conversation that Chitra Devi had with Shanthi as an example of her misconduct. "The Special Public Prosecutor being Prosecution lawyer had shown sympathy towards the accused even going to the extent of suggesting a marriage alliance between the victim and the accused. Later on 10.10.18 (day of the trial), the victim did not depose properly in the Mahila court, skipping the offence made out under the POCSO Act. On further enquiry, the innocent girl informed that she acted as per the direction of the Special Public Prosecutor," it explains.
Following this the District Superintendent of Police confessed, as per the order, that she has lost faith in the Special Public Prosecutor and demanded immediate action, a request that the Perambalur Collector forwarded to the Government.
"The Government after careful examination of the proposal of the District Collector, Perambalur, have decided to accept it. Accordingly, the Government orders for the termination of Tmt D Chitra from the post of Special Public Prosecutor, Mahila Court, Perambalur, with immediate effect," reads the order. The Collector has further been tasked with making suitable additional charge arrangement for the post till a permanent appointment is made.