THEME 4: FAILURE OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
CASE STUDY: DOMINANT CASTE PRESSURES TO CURTAIL THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE BY DALITS
Date of the incident : May 2019
Age of the survivor: 9 years
The accused runs a local grocery store in the village. One day, he saw the survivor passing in front of his house and lured her with the excuse of toffee. He then took her to the next room, stuffed a cloth in her mouth and raped her. He threatened to kill her if she spoke out.
The dominant castes called a panchayat. They advised and warned the survivor’s parents not to speak about the matter. This went on till about midnight. Other dalit families were all silent, and the survivor’s father was also silent. Her mother was not allowed to speak in the panchayat. It was decided to compromise the case for Rs 2 lakh. However, the survivor’s mother could not rest in peace and with the guidance of an NGO, she managed to register an FIR.
The NGO pressured the police to give the survivor all the medical attention that she needed. However, the Police took the survivor and her mother in a private vehicle from the hospital “to get the statement”. They refused to take her father, saying that his presence was not needed. When the police reached Tehri with the survivor, it was found that her health had deteriorated badly. The accused was also taken from the police station in the same vehicle in which the survivor and her mother were taken for the statement. He kept intimidating them. They were therefore terribly nervous and could not make a statement.
Soon, some Dalit activists gathered after news broke out that the survivor was devoid of treatment on road for more than 18 hours for the statement. Soon after, the Social Welfare Minister reached out to the family.
The survivor could not sleep for several nights. Along with the pain, the fear was making her nervous. Under the protection of the police, she was taken for counseling in the presence of NGOworkers.
The family was forced to move to a village, 70 km away, due to community pressure and backlash. The court did not ensure protection and justice for the survivor and her family members. The public prosecutor deferred the session multiple times. The survivor had to go to the district court located 160 km away about 28 to 30 times. No vehicles ply on that route; they had to travel on every date at their own expense.
In view of the biased attitude of the public prosecutor, a private lawyer had to be hired. In such a situation, out of the five lakh rupees received as compensation, most of the money was spent on commuting, lawyer’s fees, stay in the district headquarters, etc.The trial is currently pending before the court.