Odisha high court forms SIT to investigate probe into Kunduli ‘rape’ case

The Odisha high court on Monday constituted a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the investigation conducted by the state CID (crime branch) into the alleged Kunduli rape
of 2017.

While forming the SIT, the high court refused to order a CBI probe into the case. It said the SIT would comprise the three DIGPs of South Western Range Koraput, Southern Range (Berhampur) and Northern Range (Sambalpur).

The high court was hearing two separate PILs — filed by former Lok Sabha MP Kharavela Swain and the ‘victim’ girl’s mother – seeking a CBI probe. Both PILs raised doubts over the investigation by the crime branch. “The division bench of chief justice KS Jhaveri and justice KR Mohapatra posted the monitoring of the SIT inquiry to December 16,” the mother’s counsel Sebati Soren said.

“The high court formed the SIT after the state government informed the court on Monday that the crime branch had closed the investigation into the case and submitted a report in the trial court,” Soren added. The formation of an SIT comes three months after the state government tabled in the assembly the report of the judicial commission that probed the alleged gang rape. The judicial commission, in its report, said the incident was a mystery and suggested further investigation. The one-man commission of Koraput district and sessions judge BK Mishra could not confirm if the girl was raped, or the reason behind her alleged act of suicide before the completion of the investigation. The girl had claimed that she had been raped by four uniformed personnel near Sorisapadar jungle in Koraput on October 10, 2017.

A Class IX student of a government welfare school under Patangi police station limits, she had gone to Kunduli for some work when the crime allegedly took place. The state government had ordered a judicial probe into the incident on December 26, 2017. The girl allegedly committed suicide on January 22. The commission submitted its 141-page report on September 20, 2018, but it was tabled in the assembly on August 3. The panel’s report ‘did not rule out possibility of false implication in the case because of the fact of personal transgression and avoidance of further embarrassment of a situation best known to the deceased victim’.

The cause of the ‘false accusations and suicide’ is a mystery before the commission and would remain so unless unearthed by making further probe in that regard, it said. The victim’s identity has not been revealed to protect her privacy as per Supreme court directives on cases related to sexual assault

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