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No person is entitled for copy of statement of Rape victim until the appropriate order by court

Right of accused to get copy of victim's statement in sexual harassment case
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Thursday, the Supreme Court reiterated its direction in the sexual harassment case and also said that it is not a default procedure to obtain a copy of the victim’s statement after the filing of charge sheet, it requires appropriate order by court.

The bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat set aside the order of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which allowed Chinmayananda to obtain the copy of the victim’s statement.

“The filing of the charge-sheet by itself, does not entitled an accused to copies of any of the relevant documents including statement under Section 164 of the Code, unless the stages indicated above are undertaken.”, the bench said in its order.

The bench also refereed the judgement in Bhagwant Singh vs. Commissioner of Police which says that a magistrate may pass appropriate direction to obtain the copy looking after all the aspects.

“the Magistrate may deem fit that the matter requires further investigation on certain aspects/issues and may pass appropriate direction. It is only after taking of the cognizance and issuance of process that the accused is entitled, in terms of Sections 207 and 208 of the Code, to copies of the documents referred to in said provisions.”

The Court held that the High Court relied upon the judgment of State of Karnataka Vs Shivanna was completely incorrect.

“the High Court completely erred in appreciating the directions issued by this Court, especially in a matter where the offences alleged against accused are of sexual exploitation. In such matters utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained. In our view, the High Court completely failed in that behalf.”

The bench said that, no person is entitled for copy of the victim’s statement.

“no person is entitled to a copy of statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code till the appropriate orders are passed by the court after the charge-sheet is filed.”

The Bench further stated that, the right to get the copy is depends on various factors such as whether the cognisance has been taken.

“The right to receive a copy of such statement will arise only after cognizance is taken and at the stage contemplated by Sections 207 and 208 of the Code and not before.”

The bench set aside the order passed by the High Court.

“Though, a copy of the statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code was made over to the accused, we must set aside the order passed by the High Court and lay down that under no circumstances copies of statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code can be furnished till appropriate orders are passed by the Court after taking cognizance in the matter.”

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