The Bombay High Court has held that the investigating agencies cannot disclose the identity of victims of sexual offence in the chargesheet.

The Court further added that if the authority wants to produce photos showing victims then such documents should be put in a sealed envelope so that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in any manner.

The Aurangabad bench of Justice Vibha Kankanwadi and Justice Abhay S. Waghwase made these observations after finding that photographs with the victim showing the spot of occurrence are taken and those photographs are produced in the charge-sheet.

The Court observed that those photographs should not be openly added as part of charge-sheet.

“A charge-sheet travels from the office of the investigating agency (may be handled by many persons), then it comes to either the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class or directly presented before the learned Special Judge where also it is handled by many persons. Under such circumstance, the identity of the victim is disclosed. The investigating agency has to be sensitive in the matter.”, the bench observed.

The Court noted that when the accused facing charge under Section 376 and other Sections of Indian Penal Code, POCSO Act want to rely on certain photographs in which victim is seen then those photographs are openly placed/annexed in the petition.

Thus the Court directed all the concerned agencies to file photographs of such victims in a sealed envelope before the concerned Courts.

The Court was dealing with a plea challenging the order of rejection of bail application of a man accused of committing sexual intercourse with the informant by giving a promise to marry and also caused her abortion.

Advocate M. S. Karad appeared for appellant-accused whereas APP Preeti Diggikar appeared for State. Advocate A. K. Bhosale appeared for the informant.

The Court observed that the facts of the case showed that the relationship was consensual. The Court further noted as per the charge-sheet there was no evidence on abortion being done by the informant over threats from the accused.

The Court held that the Trial Judge erred in dismissing the bail application of the accused.

“Now, the investigation is over and the charge-sheet is filed. This Court by order dated 30.11.2022 had granted interim protection to the appellant and then the investigating officer has filed charge-sheet on 20.12.2022. Therefore, physical custody of the appellant is not necessary.”, the Court noted.

Thus the Court granted bail to the applicant-accused.

Cause Title- Sajjan v. State & Anr.

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