The Supreme Court on February 17 ordered an interim stay on the proceedings against a senior government official in a sexual harassment and molestation case involving a minor girl in Uttarakhand's Almora.

A bench of Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice Pankaj Mithal issued notices to the Uttarakhand government, the Central Bureau of Investigation, and others while seeking their response in four weeks.

Senior advocate Dama Sheshadri Naidu, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that the report of the Medical Officer, Government Hospital, Ranikhet, also countersigned by the Remand Magistrate, Almora, records the fact that the petitioner is a bilateral amputee (100 percent disability in hands).

"The said report was made when the petitioner was arrested and was medically examined at the time of production before the Magistrate. Since the petition raises serious questions, issue notice, returnable in four weeks. It is stated that the final report has been filed on November 30, 2022 and the charges are yet to be framed. Therefore, there shall be an interim stay of further proceedings," the bench said.

Advocates R K Chaudhary and Mukesh Rajput, counsel for the petitioner, stated that neither the petitioner nor his wife have anything to do with the NGO which ran the school where the alleged incident took place. "This is a false narrative spread by scamsters," they said.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by AV Premnath, who was posted as joint secretary at the Delhi Secretariat, seeking a CBI investigation into the alleged criminal conspiracy against him. The officer has been charged under the POCSO Act and IPC sections 376/511 (attempt to rape), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation), and some provisions of the Information Technology Act.

"This Court in this exceptional case as evident in extraordinary circumstances of the petitioner needs to exercise its inherent powers to order further probe or reinvestigation in a criminal case to secure the ends of justice even after the charge but no charges have been framed till date against the petitioner. The present case of the petitioner is an appropriate case, where the investigation is not in the proper direction and to do complete justice where the facts of the present case so demand, directing further investigation or even reinvestigation is necessary and expedient to avoid further miscarriage of justice," the plea said.

Cause Title - Ankem Venkat Prem Nath v. The State of Uttarakhand & Ors.

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