A court in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore city allowed the Indian Air Force on Thursday to court martial a flight lieutenant accused of raping a colleague, The News Minute reported.
On Sunday, the Tamil Nadu Police had arrested 29-year-old Flight Lieutenant Amitesh Harmukh.
The alleged assault took place in an Air Force training academy in Coimbatore on September 9.
In her complaint, the woman had said that senior officers of the Air Force had attempted to talk her out of registering a complaint. Doctors at the Air Force hospital had also conducted the banned two-finger test on her, which she said made her “relive the trauma” of the assault.
Following the court’s orders, Harmukh walked out of jail on Thursday, according to The News Minute.
The order holds significance as investigation in the matter will now be conducted by Air Force authorities.
After Harmukh was arrested on Sunday, the Air Force had filed an appeal in a judicial magistrate court seeking permission to court martial him. Meanwhile, the complainant had demanded a police investigation.
In an affidavit to the court, Harmukh had cited Section 72 of the Indian Air Force Act, 1950, according to which he said the police had no authority to arrest him, The News Minute reported. He added that the police should have handed over his custody to the Air Force authorities.
The court upheld the Air Force’s appeal to court martial Harmukh.
Air Force officers did not take any action
In her complaint, the woman had alleged several procedural lapses by the Air Force authorities. She alleged that that senior officers of the Air Force did not take any action after she informed them about the assault.
Doctors at the Air Force Hospital conducted the two-finger test that had been banned by the Supreme Court in 2013.
Critics have pointed out that the test is unscientific and prejudicial towards a sexual assault complainant, since it is used to test the laxity of vaginal muscles and could be used to judge the complainant’s sexual history.
The physical examiners at the Air Force Hospital also allegedly delayed the handing over of evidence to the authorities. The woman’s swabs were not sent to authorities until after she filed her complaint on September 20, over 10 days after the alleged assault.
The room where the woman was allegedly raped was also not sealed.
The complainant also stated that it was difficult for her to see the accused person in the same campus as her. The woman said that a senior told her that if she could bear the pain of an ankle injury, she could manage seeing him in her class too.
NCW takes cognisance of IAF conducting two-finger test
On Thursday, the National Commission for Women on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the doctors conducting the two-finger test, ANI reported.
In a press note, the women’s body condemned the Air Force doctors and said it was “utterly disappointed” at their actions as conducting the test violated the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter, as well as the right to privacy and dignity of the woman.
The note pointed out that the Indian Council of Medical Research had also deemed the test unscientific in 2014.
The women’s body chairperson Rekha Sharma has also written to the air chief marshall of the Indian Air Force to look into the matter, the release stated. Sharma has asked the Air Force chief to “take necessary steps and impart the necessary knowledge” to doctors of the force regarding guidelines about the two-finger test.