Tussle between Tamil Nadu police, IAF over rape case investigation
A tussle had begun between the police and the Indian Air Force over who is entitled to investigate a rape case filed by a woman officer against her colleague . The alleged crime took place at the Air Force Administrative College campus in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district on September 10.
While the police have arrested the accused, the additional Mahila court in Coimbatore on Monday extended his judicial custody until September 30. During the hearing, the counsel of the accused N Sundaravadivelu argued that since the two officers belong to the armed forces and in this case the Indian Air Force, so they are subject to the Air Force Act. “It’s a special Act which is beyond the purview of the criminal procedure code and other punishable sections,” said the advocate and former public prosecutor for the CBI. “As far as the Indian Penal Code is concerned, it will be applied by the court martial authorities. There is a transgression by the civil police of Coimbatore- they have no right to investigate this matter. So the judiciary in subordinate courts also has no jurisdiction. This has to be investigated only by the air force authorities by court of enquiry and court martial. Though I’m appearing for the accused, I’m arguing that the trial should happen before the IAF authorities because that is the right forum. I cannot be defending my client in a wrong forum,” Sundaravadivelu added.
Independently, officials from the Indian Air Force have also filed a petition in the court seeking the case to be transferred from the police for them to conduct the probe and a court martial. “We have cited all rules and procedures for the accused to be handed over to us,” said a spokesperson for the IAF on Tuesday.
The police contended that the victim was unhappy with the enquiry being conducted by the institute which is why she had approached the Coimbatore city commissioner Deepak M Damor on September 20. Based on the complaint the All-Women’s Police Station in Gandhipuram carried out preliminary enquiries, registered a case against the accused officer and arrested him on Saturday. “Police have jurisdiction all over,” said a senior police officer in Coimbatore. “She was assaulted in the accommodation, and they (institute) had started taking action, but she was not happy with the enquiry, so she approached the police,” the officer added.
The court will now decide on whether to hand over the accused to the IAF or allow the local police to continue investigating in the next hearing scheduled for September 30.
Around 30 personnel from across India are undergoing training in the institute since August 15. The woman officer (27) had a leg injury around the first week of September while undergoing sports training on campus. She had taken medication for the injury before going to sleep and has reported that on the night of September 10, the accused allegedly came into her hostel room and committed the crime.