Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW) issued notice to the district Superintendent of Police in Cachar asking him to submit a report to the commission regarding the case. The letter signed by Monidipa Borkotoki, the member secretary of the commission said that the legal advisory committee of the ASCW heard the complaint forwarded to it by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and passed an order. The order asked for a report from the concerned SP regarding the details of the complaint and for notice to the complainant for her appearance on the next date to hear the complaints in detail for further action.
The case involves allegations of extortion and harassment of Sharmista Das, daughter of late Rishikesh Dutta, resident of Narsing Road, Shibam Apartment Ground, Ambicapatty, Silchar, (Cachar, Assam) the victim. She alleged that she and her mother had been forced to pay bribes by the police when she lodged complaints about harassment and cruelty allegedly meted out to her by her husband and other in-laws for dowry. According to the victim the cases have been registered but no effective actions have been taken. Instead, the victim alleges, they harassed her and her relatives and forced her to pay rupees 30,100.00 (thirty thousand and one hundred) and attempted to get another Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) by virtual detention and threat of dire consequences between 3 November, 2009 and 20 March, 2010. (See the details here)
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) documented the case and wrote to the authorities including the NCW urging for their intervention for the sake of justice. No information was received by BHRPC after several reminders, except a letter from the NCW that the case was forwarded to the ASCW. In response of BHRPC letter dated 28 March 2011 the ASCW informed about the order of their legal advisory committee and notice to the SP.
According to BHRPC the action of the ASCW is a good gesture but too late and too little.
In a letter to the member-secretary fo the ASCW BHRPC stated that the complaint of the victim involves three cases vide 1. Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009 dated 3 November, 2009 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), 2. Silchar PS Case No. 509/10 under sections 379 and 406, IPC, 3. Case No. 155 M/2010 in the Court of Executive Magistrate under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) and serious allegations of extortion and forcing the victim to pay bribes. But the ASCW asked for reports concerning only one case, viz., Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009. BHRPC is doubtful whether this partial inquiry can reveal the whole truth. More importantly an independent inquiry should be conducted into the allegations of extortion and harassment of the victim by the investigating officers of the police.
BHRPC also wrote that police in Assam often disregards the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 160 of the CrPC while conducting investigation/inquiry. The proviso says “that no male person under the age of fifteen years or women shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or woman resides”.
BHRPC further said that the order of the legal advisory committee of the ASCW directs the ASCW office to issue notice to the complainant for her appearance on the next date to hear the complaint in details for further action. But the BHRPC has not received any such notice and information of the next date. The complainant/victim needs to know the date of the hearing and whether her presence is required or not giving her enough time to make preparations for journey from Silchar to Guwahati and other matters.
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
Information Officer, BHRPC