HC allows petitioners to assist CBI in Pollachi sexual harassment case probe

The CBI on Monday informed the Madras High Court it cannot supply copies of the progress report on its investigation into the Pollachi sexual harassment case to petitioners as directed by it since the trial itself is to be held in-camera.

Making the submission before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice C Saravanan, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said it had no objections to the court monitoring the investigation and filing progress reports for its perusal and for further orders.

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions, including one from the Tamil Nadu Association of Women Advocates, seeking setting up of a fact-finding team and monitoring of the probe among other relief.

The court had on October 16 ordered the investigating agency to furnish copies of the report to the petitioners' counsel, besides seeking a copy for itself.

The case is related to sexual abuse of several women by a gang in Pollachi in Coimbatore district which came to light in February after a victim lodged a police complaint.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, CBI special Public Prosecutor K Srinivasan informed that the trial in the sensitive case was to be held in-camera and therefore entire materials cannot be placed in the public domain.

The petitioners can approach the investigation officer concerned and assist him by providing material in their possession related to the case.

Recording the submission, the bench in its order said it was allowing the petitioners to espouse the cause of the victims with the intention that such incidents should not occur in future.

It directed the petitioners to approach the investigation officer and supply him relevant materials which they have and assist in the future investigation in the manner known to law.

The bench then ordered the CBI to place relevant materials and investigation reports in a sealed cover before the court for passing further orders and posted the matter to December 3.

A gang of four men had allegedly tried to strip a 19-year-old woman inside a car near Pollachi, over 500 km from here, on February 12 and had recorded the act and blackmailed her using the visuals.

Later during probe, it emerged that several other women in the region had been sexually harassed by the gang.

The Tamil Nadu government in March transferred the case to the CBI amid mounting public outrage over the incident.