The Manipur High Court has taken up a suo-moto case in connection with the alleged rape of a minor boy in Tengnoupal district.
The case, with PIL number 36 of 2022, was taken up based on Imphal Free Press news report entitled ‘Tengnoupal Rape Case: Move for delivery of justice in chaos', published on November 10.
The respondents of the case are the state of Manipur, represented by the principal secretary, home, government of Manipur; DGP Manipur; Superintendent of Police, Tengnoupal District; director of Social Welfare; Manipur Commission of Protection of Child Rights represented by its chairperson.
The High Court added another two respondents in the case i.e. the deputy commissioner of Tengnoupal and chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee, Tengnoupal district for a comprehensive adjudication. The court has fixed the next hearing of the case on November 30, 2022.
The Imphal Free Press reported that the move to deliver justice in a case of alleged rape of a minor boy in Tengnoupal district in October was in chaos as the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Tengnoupal chairperson reportedly resigned from his post following pressure from locals and family of the victim.
The locals and family members wanted justice through a customary system, while the CWC wanted the procedure through the court of law even as the police were reportedly slow on it.
The minor boy was allegedly raped at a village in Tengnoupal district on October 14. An FIR was lodged at the Moreh Police Station on the day itself under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, but proper investigation was not carried out.
The police department brought the victim boy to CWC Tengnoupal district.
According to an application submitted by the police department to CWC Tengnoupal, the FIR was lodged by the victim's grandmother on the day of the incident, as per sources.
As per the complainant report, the incident happened when the victim was returning to his home after buying things from the shop. The accused caught him and allegedly raped him at his resident.
Considering the safety of the victim, the CWC Tengnoupal admitted the victim in one children’s home under Tengnoupal district.
The local community leaders were reportedly making efforts to resolve the heinous crime through customary laws.
CWC Tengnoupal chairperson Michael Thomas told the Imphal Free Press that the FIR of the incident was lodged on October 14 and they received the report on October 22.
As the victim is a vulnerable child that needs proper care and support, they decided to admit him in a children’s home. However, pressure was being put upon him by the family, relatives and local community leaders to release the victim from the children’s home, Thomas said.
“On one hand, I have been facing pressure from local leaders relating to this case as they would like to settle through customary laws. On the other hand, being an employee, I have to honour the instruction of seniors and law and order. Therefore, my condition is like that of being between the deep sea and the devil. But in the interest of children, I will not release him from home, rather I will submit my resignation letter,” he stated.
When enquired about the case to the officer-in-charge of police station where FIR was lodged, the OC said that the statement of victim was taken but medical examination and other related investigations were yet to be conducted.
Due to pressure from the family side, they were unable to continue the investigation process smoothly. Even the family members of the victim approached them to withdraw the FIR. However, the police department objected to doing so, the OC had said.
While assuring them to arrest the culprit, he said that they will not give up the case until the culprit(s) are arrested. They will not compromise the case with customary law, the OC had said.
Visiting the children's home, the Imphal Free Press had found that the minor boy appeared to be a vulnerable child who was raised in a dysfunctional family. He was in a dilemma whether to go back home or to stay in the children's home.