The Madras High Court on Monday ordered the forensic analysis of a viral video in which a 17-year-old girl who died by suicide last week can be seen making allegations of forced conversion, reported Live Law.
The Madurai bench of the High Court was hearing a petition filed by the girl’s father demanding that the case be transferred to the Crime Branch of the Tamil Nadu Criminal Investigation Department.
The court also directed Muthuvel, the person who reportedly filmed the video, to appear before the investigating officer of the case on Tuesday and submit the mobile phone on which the clip had been recorded. The court noted that the investigating officer’s confirmation about the voice of the deceased in the video alone was not sufficient evidence.
The investigation officer will send the mobile phone and a compact disk to Tamil Nadu Forensic Science Laboratory in Chennai for forensic analysis. The court has asked the forensics officials to submit the report by 5 pm on January 27.
Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madras High Court also asked the Regional Forensic Science Laboratory in Thanjavur to submit the girl’s viscera report to the investigating officer by 4 pm on January 27. The investigation officer must also have the final post-mortem report by Thursday, the bench added.
The girl reportedly drank poison on January 9, and died 10 days later. Her father has alleged that she had been tortured as she had refused to convert to Christianity. The girl’s parents have sought action against a nun who allegedly sought to convert her.
In an unverified video shared on social media, the girl could be purportedly seen saying that she was abused by her hostel warden, and that she may have been harassed as her family had refused to convert to Christianity. The girl also reportedly claimed that she was forced to clean the hostel and carry out administrative work.
The police have arrested the hostel warden and booked her under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Juvenile Justice Act.
However, Thanjavur Superintendent of Police Ravali Priya Gandhapuneni had said last week that there was no mention of attempted religious conversion in the initial complaint and the girl’s dying declaration. She added that the video recording was given to the police on January 20, a day after the girl died.
Meanwhile, the girl’s parents recorded their statement before the Thanjavur judicial magistrate on Monday. The court said that the parents have reiterated their allegations of forced conversion before the magistrate. Justice Swaminathan asked the investigating officer to decide by Wednesday if an alteration report should be filed based on parents’ statements.
The court will hear the matter again on January 28.