Orissa: SC stays trial of Kandhamal nun rape case

The trial of a case involving rape of a Christian nun during the 2008 Kandhamal riots in Orissa was stayed on Monday by the Supreme Court.

New Delhi: The trial of a case involving rape
of a Christian nun allegedly by religious fanatics during the
2008 Kandhamal riots in Orissa was stayed on Monday by the Supreme
Court on a plea by the victim challenging the prosecution`s
failure to cross-examine a sub-divisional magistrate.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and SS Nijjar stayed
the trial while asking the Orissa government and others to
respond to the nun`s plea and posted the matter for further
hearing on March 22.

The apex court`s order came on an appeal by the victim
seeking recall of prosecution witness Sadar SDM and his
cross-examination as she alleged he, in his test
identification parade (TIP) report, had wrongly said that one
of the accused Santosh Patnaik "did not commit any other overt
act" against her.

According to the SDM`s TIP report, Patnaik "gave her
(victim) a slap, pulled her saree, squeezed her breasts and
did not commit any other overt act."

The nun had sought SDM`s cross-examination or
alternatively wanted him to be declared a hostile witness, but
both the trial court and the Orissa High Court had turned down
her plea, saying a request for cross-examination of a
prosecution witness could be made either by the public
prosecutor or upon court`s direction.

The apex court said it would examine the matter at length
as an important question of law under Section 311 and 301 of
the CrPC relating to rights of a complainant to cross-examine
a witness was involved.

As many as 38 people were killed in the Kandhamal riots
during 2008 and the nun was allegedly gang-raped by religious

The riots occurred in Kandhamal, a tribal-dominated
district, in the aftermath of the killing of VHP leader
Laxmanananda Saraswati at the Jalespata Ashram on August 23,

Trial in the case had begun in January 2009.

The Hindu groups in the state had blamed Christians for
killing Lakshmanananda. They cited Lakshmanananda`s claims
that Christians were trying to eliminate him for his
opposition to conversion, and had attacked him "eight times".

On August 2528, Hindu mobs, allegedly set fire to many
Christian settlements, in which at least 38 people were

In addition, more than 25,000 Christians were forced to
flee their villages "after their houses were attacked by
rampaging mobs".

The Supreme Court has been monitoring the relief and
rehabilitation measures for the victim on pleas by the
Orissa`s Archbishop and others.


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