By Basil Fernando –
Deterioration Of The Legal Intellect (9): The Rape Victim Who Got Hell Of A Justice
Rita, a rape victim visited the Magistrates Court 24 times between 2001 and 2004. Then, the case was referred to the Attorney General for the filing of indictment. The visits she made to the High Court thereafter, and reasons for postponements, are catalogued as follows:
Case No: HC 57/2007
High Court – Kandy
23rd October 2006: Indictment filed by the Attorney General
23rd February 2007: Indictment received by the Kandy High Court. Summons issued to the two accused
26th March 2007: The two accused were granted bail.
27th April 2007: 1st and 2nd witnesses summoned as prosecution witnesses.
18th October 2007: Productions were not presented in court.
01st February 2008: The Judge was absent.
30th May 2008: The State Counsel was absent.
30th January 2009: The State Counsel reported that there are two indictments with the same charges. Therefore, the matter was referred to the Attorney General. The Judge was absent.
15th May 2009: The matter was pending for Attorney General’s advice.
23rd June 2009: HC 260/2008 Case was dismissed.
19th October 2009: The matter was transferred to Nuwara Eliya High Court.
Case No: HC NE 48/2010
High Court – Nuwara Eliya
03rd March 2010: Summons issued for the 1st to 8th prosecution witnesses.
12th July 2010: State Counsel has not received the file.
05th October 2010: 1st accused was absent and a warrant was issued to him.
26th October 2010: The matter was fixed for trial.
20th April 2011: Matter was postponed due to an application of the defence counsel.
09th May 2011: 01st witness (J. Rita) was called for evidence.
Evidence in chief was commenced.
Productions were not presented to the Court.
Therefore, another date was given.
14th June 2011: Productions presented in Court and 1st witness’s evidence in chief concluded.
19th July 2011: Further cross-examination.
22nd Nov 2011: Matter was called twice in the absence of the defence counsel and postponed due to misconduct of the defence counsel. The two accused were remanded.
22nd March 2012: Cross-examination and re-examination of witness no. 1 concluded.
05th Sep 2012: 2nd witness Anthonimiuttu Annamary, 6th witness 23851 Alahakoon, 7th witness 22517 Selvanayagam, 9th witness Priyanka, 11th witness 28674 Samayamanthry, and 12th witness 29339 Gunadasa gave evidence. Warrants issued to witness no. 4 and 5.
18th March 2013: State Counsel was not ready for the trial. Defence counsel made an application to recall the 1st witness Rita Jesudasan for evidence. Summons issued to witness no. 1.
10th June 2013: Judge and State counsel were absent.
02nd Sep 2013: Witness No. 4 Kadiravel Palanisami’s evidence concluded.
28th October 2013: Witness No. 5 – Dr. S.A.K.A. Wijesundara was called for evidence. But due to the vague nature of his evidence judge adjourned the case. When the case was taken up in the afternoon the defence lawyer was not present.
29th October 2013: Witness No. 5 – Dr. S.A.K.A. Wijesundara was not present in Court.
16th January 2014: The Judge was absent.
24th March 2014: Witness No. 5 – Dr. S.A.K.A. Wijesundara was absent.
28th May 2014: The Judge was absent.
03rd July 2014: Witness No. 5 – Dr. S.A.K.A. Wijesundara (DMO) was absent. Therefore, J. Rita was re-called for evidence. However, defence lawyer was not ready for the trial and due to this the case was postponed.
25th September 2014: Witness No. 05 – Dr. S.A.K.A. Wijesundara was present in court. Yet, the defence counsel moved a date on personal grounds.
15th December 2014: The Judge was absent.
23rd March 2015: Witness No. 5 – Dr. S.A.K.A Wijesundara’s evidence was concluded and Witness No. 1 J. Rita was re-cross-examined until 5.30 p.m.
26th March 2015: Re-cross-examination and re-examination of J. Rita concluded. A date was given to the State Counsel to conclude the prosecution’s case.
03rd June 2015: Next Date
How long this will go on further, no one knows.
Some day trial court will give its verdict. Then, if the accused are convicted, they will appeal. That would mean a few more years of delay and many more visits to court. By any chance, if the court orders a retrial,(as it had happened in some cases) the whole process will be repeated again. It is not wrong to condemn this kind of conduct of trials as absurd and stupid.
Above all, this kind of conduct is a conspiracy against the rape victim. It only helps the rapists and encourages the repetition of the crime.
A rape trial can easily be conducted and completed within a year, as it is done in many other countries.
It is shocking how judges and prosecutors adjust to this system. If they refuse to cooperate with this maddening scheme, reforms can happen very soon.