SC raps Odisha chief secy for not responding

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed Odisha’s chief secretary to be present in court on April 10 for failure of the State in responding to the notice issued, and a fine subsequently imposed, in connection with the rape video case now being probed by the CBI on its directions.

“Something is wrong with Odisha,” observed the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit when counsel for the state did not respond when called by the court.

The apex court on February 27, while directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the rape video sent to Chief Justice H.L. Dattu by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala in a pen drive along with a letter had issued notice to the central, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana and Delhi governments.

The court had imposed a Rs.50,000 fine on Odisha after it failed to respond to the notice issued by the court and was not present in the court during the case’s previous hearing on March 13. Odisha on Friday earned the ire of the court for its repeat act of not being present in the court through its counsel when the case was called out for hearing.

The court’s March 13 order had said: “We must express our anguish that in spite of service, there is no appearance on behalf of the state of Odisha despite the fact that the case is of considerable importance. Due to non-appearance on behalf of the state of Odisha, we impose cost of Rs.50,000 to be paid by the state of Odisha to the petitioner within one week from today.”

The CBI on Friday told the court that video clips of rape has been examined and found to comprise nine different clips. It told the court that it has registered eight FIRs and one PE (preliminary enquiry).

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that in two cases, they have identified the accused. There were two accused in one case and both were arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police but since the FIR had inadequate charges against them, they were released onbail.

In the other case, the suspect was absconding and measures were on to track him.

The court was also informed that the source of one video clip has been traced to Egypt and the external affairs ministry’s help is being sought to track the case.

The ASG told the court that it would not be possible to trace the source of video if it was originally uploaded on messaging service WhatsApp but there was a possibility of source of origin being identified if it was uploaded on a computer.

Giving time to CBI to go on with its investigations, the court asked it to submit a status report on the next hearing April 10.

Meanwhile, Telangana contested the NGO’s claim that state police has done nothing to investigate the attack on its general secretary’s car during its “Shame the rapist” campaign.

Producing the original file of action taken, Additional Solicitor General N.K.Kaul told the court that police swung into action soon after it received the complaint, and the matter was handed over to an SIT for probe.

Accepting the explanation, the court reduced the fine on the state in this regard from Rs.25,000 to Rs.5,000, and on Prajwala’s submission, directed the amount to be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee.

However, the court did not expunge its observation that Telangana Police was taking the matter “very casually”.

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