Karnataka HC says incident of parading woman naked ‘an extraordinary case’; summons investigating officers

The woman was allegedly assaulted, paraded naked, and tied to an electric pole after her son eloped with a girl.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 14, 2023 | 6:29 PMUpdatedDec 14, 2023 | 6:29 PM

Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar interacting with the family and relatives of the victim instilling them with courage

Expressing anguish, the High Court of Karnataka, on Thursday, 14 December, termed the incident of a woman being paraded naked in a village in Belagavi district as an “extraordinary case” and said, “It will have extraordinary treatment at our hands.”

The woman was allegedly assaulted, paraded naked, and tied to an electric pole after her son eloped with a girl who was to get engaged with someone else, in the early hours of 11 December.

A Division Bench also summoned the Police Commissioner of Belagavi along with the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) to be personally present in the court on 18 December to file an additional report.

The Advocate General (AG), on Thursday, placed a memo and some documents about the action taken on the incident before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit.

Related: Lovers elope from Belagavi; woman’s kin parade man’s mother naked

‘Report is falling short’

The court, however, said the report was falling short. The “least we can say is that we are not satisfied with the way things took place after the incident. The AG seeks some time to submit additional reports. Accordingly, learned AG is permitted to place on record an additional status report on Monday,” the Bench ordered.

When the AG submitted that the ACP was investigating the matter, the high court directed the Commissioner and the ACP to be present and file the additional report. The high court has also directed that the assailants should be arrested immediately.

Taking serious exception to the incident, the high court observed, “This is a shame to all of us. We cannot expect this situation after 75 years of freedom. It is a question for us, are we going into the 21st century or going back to the 17th century?”

“Are we going to see equality or progressiveness or are we going back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Our anguish makes us use such harsh words. We are exceeding but we can’t help. We feel the least we can do is express our anguish in some harsh words,” the Bench said.

Also Read: HC asks report on inquiry into allegations against govt contractors

‘Will be affecting the future generation’

The high court further observed that “this (incident) will be affecting the future generation. Are we creating a society where there is a chance to dream for a better future or we are creating a society where somebody will feel it is better to die than to live? Where there is no respect for a lady.”

During the arguments, the high court noted that the accused were also from the SC/ST Community and therefore the case does not attract provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

On 12 December, the high court took suo motu cognisance of the incident based on news reports.

During the hearing on Thursday, the high court said a dangerous precedent is being set that there is no fear of law. “A dangerous signal is being sent that there is no fear of law. If this happens in Karnataka which is a progressive state, this is unfortunate after independence. No fear of the law is very very disturbing,” the Court said.

The Court said it was speechless that the Women’s Commission was not in the picture yet.

“With a very heavy heart, we have to say that the Commission for Women acts on what somebody says in a TV debate but when this is done where is the commission? Have they taken cognisance? Any women’s rights or human rights commission have done anything? No personal visit to the spot or family. We are speechless what can we say.”

Also Read: ‘Law and order completely deteriorated in Karnataka,’ says R Ashoka

‘Extraordinary treatment at our hands’

The court said it was an extraordinary case and it will get “extraordinary treatment at our hands.” Since the accused is absconding, the high court said, “Tell your inspector not to have lunch and dinner till he is arrested.”

The high court also directed the AG to check if there is any compensation scheme available for the victim-woman. “Come up with some monetary scheme for this lady and her family,” it said.

The woman’s only fault was that she happened to be the mother of a 24-year-old man who eloped with his lover, aged 18. The younger woman’s family had fixed her wedding with another man, the Belagavi police said.

Earlier, the court had ordered all electronic media not to telecast any videos related to the incident.

The court took this step after noticing a photograph in one newspaper where the victim’s face was blurred but it also showed electronic media videographing the victim’s reactions.

The Division Bench said, “If any media house or its representatives has videographed the above interview of the victim during the visit of the Hon’ble minister or any such interaction by the victim, this court hereby directs not to telecast such an interview or interaction on any national or regional channel.”

“It is further made clear that if already such an interview is displayed or telecast in the electronic media, henceforth, there shall not be any display or telecast of the same,” the Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale, said in its order on Tuesday.

Related: Karnataka HC orders to stop telecast of videos of disrobed victim

The incident

Both elopers belong to the Nayak community. They apparently left their homes at half past midnight on 11 December.

An hour later, the woman’s relatives barged into the man’s house and found his mother alone. They allegedly assaulted the woman to elicit information about the couple’s whereabouts.

They then allegedly stripped her and then paraded her through the streets, before tying her to the pole.

Informed about the incident, the police arrived at the scene around 4 am, freed the woman, and clothed her.

She was then taken to a hospital where she was kept under observation. The police said she did not suffer any injuries.

“Both the man and his lover belong to the same community and are from the same village. Around 12.30 am on Monday, they eloped from the village. Angered, the girl’s parents and relatives barged into his house, and treated his mother inhumanly,” said Belagavi Commissioner of Police (CP) SN Siddramappa.

“On getting information at 4 am, our sub-inspector visited the village, followed by other senior officials. Seven people have been arrested,” the officer said, adding that a case has been registered at the Kakati Police Station.

(With PTI inputs)