Cuttack, Feb. 12: The case of two lawyers allegedly molesting a woman police inspector inside a lift on the premises of Orissa High Court took a new turn today with the Odisha Police Association expressing doubts over the ongoing inquiry into it.
The association demanded "an impartial inquiry" and "adherence to norms" prescribed for appointment of an investigating officer.
The police association's president Satyajit Mishra: "It is strange that a lady police officer at least seven years junior to the assaulted lady police inspector has been made the investigating officer in the case."
"We demand a police officer senior to the victim, preferably not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police, to be assigned the job," Mishra told a news conference here today.
According to the association, the victim - an inspector of the CID-Crime Branch - is a 2001 recruit, while the investigating officer in the case is a lady police inspector who started her police service in 2008.
A complaint against the two lawyers, both of whom are members of the Orissa High Court Bar Association, was lodged at the Lalbag police station on February 9.
According to the complaint, the incident took place inside an elevator (lift No. 5) of the court building around 11.40am on February 7 when the lady police inspector was on her way to one of the floors of the seven-storey high court building. She was not in police uniform.
Acting on the lady police inspector's complaint, a case had been registered under Indian Penal Code's section 354 (outraging of modesty of a woman) and 354 (A) sexual harassment of a woman.
The police association's demand follows scrutiny of the CCTV footage of the lift. The preliminary examination of CCTV footage revealed that one of the lawyers "unintentionally" touched her, consequently making section 354 (outraging of modesty of a woman) inapplicable in the case, said a source in the police.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Cuttack, Sanjeev Arora confirmed to The Telegraph that the cops had examined the CCTV footage of the lift, but would not speak about the preliminary findings from it.
Mishra said the lady inspector has alleged that the two lawyers had sexually harassed her by touching her inappropriately with their elbow and making other unwelcome gestures inside the elevator.
She has also alleged that the lawyers passed lewd comments at her when she opposed them. She has further alleged that the two lawyers followed her and continued to pass undesirable remarks such as "mad woman" even after she walked out of the lift and had even threatened her, he said.
Mishra said: "According to the inspector's allegations, in addition to Section 354 (A) sexual harassment of a woman, a prima facie case is also made out under Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his/her duty) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation)". He was, however, silent about registering of case under Section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman).
The association regretted that the Orissa High Court Bar Association had dismissed the allegations as "false and unfounded".
Secretary of the High Court Bar Association Chandra Behura had on Friday said they had taken up the issue and also checked the CCTV footage of the lift.
The CCTV footage of the lift did not corroborate the allegations made by the lady inspector, Behura had said while urging the police to examine the footage and make it known to the public that no such incident had occurred.