The Bombay high court on Thursday transferred the rape case against former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator, Laxman Dhobale, to the Mumbai police crime branch.
The division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice PD Kode issued the directive on a suo-motu petition taken up by the court, after the 42-year-old complainant had addressed a letter to the chief justice expressing apprehension of threat to her life and the lives of her family.
Although the FIR against Dhobale was registered with the Borivli police, the investigation was being conducted by the Goregaon police, as there were no women officers of the rank of inspector at Borivli.
The bench has directed the state to give the woman police protection, in view of her apprehension of threat. Following this, public prosecutor Sandip Shinde assured the court that she would be given police protection from Thursday itself.
Based on a complaint lodged by her, the Borivli police had registered an FIR against Dhobale under sections 376 (rape), 323 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 506 (intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The woman, who works as clerk at an educational trust of which Dhobale is a trustee, has alleged she was blackmailed and sexually abused by the former minister for about two years.
According to her complaint, the Solapur district MLA would call her into his office cabin and force her to perform sexual activities with him. She has alleged he raped her between 2011 and January 2013, while threatening to circulate the obscene photographs of her.
In her letter to the chief justice, the woman said she was called by the Borivli police on several occasions for medical examination and to record her statement.
However, instead of taking action against the accused, she was terrorised and had, therefore, lost faith in the local police, she said, while urging the court to transfer the matter to the crime branch.
Dhobale has maintained the complainant was facing charges of misappropriation, and that was why she had levelled “wild allegations” against him.