Guj HC asks Chief Magistrate to inquire into UK woman's case

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday asked the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate here to inquire into the allegation by a British woman that she was humiliated in an open court.

Following her experience during the hearing on Monday of the case of her alleged molestation by a plumber, Kaya Eldridge had written to High Court Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan charging she was humiliated in the courtroom of magistrate N M Gundeliya.

"The Chief Justice today asked the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to inquire into the matter and asked for a status report," Eldridge's lawyer Meena Jagtap said.

She said the Chief Justice has asked the magistrate to ascertain whether the trial in this case took place in accordance with the law.

As in cases involving criminal acts like rape or sexual harassment, the Supreme Court guidelines say that court proceedings should take place 'in-camera' so as to avoid not only embarrassment to the victim in courtroom but also to protect her identity.

Eldridge, a 23-year-old British woman, was allegedly molested by a plumber Pragnesh Chhatrada last month and he was later arrested and charged.

During the hearing of case in the metropolitan court, Eldridge and her lawyer Jagtap said that Chhatrada's lawyer Sanjay Prajapati humiliated them.

In her letter to High Court Eldridge had said that Prajapati had asked her irrelevant questions like if she smoked and drank and was she living illegally in India.

Eldridge had also complained that Prajapati had asked her questions in Gujarati during the hearing held on Monday which she could not comprehend. Moreover, the people sitting in the court were laughing at her including the accused.

The UK woman had further alleged that during hearing in court she was not provided with a translator.

Even the public prosecutor in the case J S Joshi had left the court during the cross examination to attend hearing in other case, Eldridge had said in her letter.

Eldridge had also moved a plea to conduct the hearing in the case in-camera, which was accepted by the court.

Further hearing of the case is scheduled on September 30.

Bureau Report