The Madras High Court on Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay Rs 25 lakh to the complainant in the Pollachi serial sexual assault and blackmail case for revealing her identity, The News Minute reported.
Coimbatore Superintendent of Police R Pandiarajan had mentioned the complainant’s name during a press briefing, while Tamil Nadu Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi had identified her in a government notification transferring the investigation in the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation, NDTV reported.
Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar of the High Court’s Madurai bench criticised Pandiarajan for also revealing the number of videos he received and the number of accused in the first stage of investigation.
The court directed the state government to take disciplinary action against the officer. It also ordered the state to withdraw the government order transferring the case to CBI, which had identified the complainant, and to issue a fresh order. “There should be soul searching by everybody concerned here,” the court said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by S Ilamuhil, a resident of Trichy, who had sought a direction to prevent the circulation of videos and photos of sexual assault.
The bench also ordered the central government to provide counselling to women in other towns who were also sexually assaulted. It directed the Centre and the state to submit a status report on a 2012 order to set up a “One Stop Centre” to deal with rape cases and counselling survivors.
The bench directed the Centre and the Internet Service Providers Association of India to “prohibit the circulation of the scandalous videos” and gave them three weeks’ time to respond to the notice, according to NDTV.
The case relates to allegations that a gang of four men have been befriending hundreds of women on social media and then sexually molesting them, since 2013. In some cases, the men shot explicit videos of the women and used those to blackmail their victims, police said. Four men – N Satish, N Sabarirajan, T Vasanthakumar and K Thirunavukkarasu – have been arrested in Pollachi in connection with the case. The four are now in judicial custody.
The allegations of the sexual harassment and blackmail racket came to light on February 25, when a 19-year-old college student in Pollachi filed a complaint against them for sexually harassing her. On February 24, the brother of the college student who filed the case got into a scuffle with the four men. When the police intervened, the victim’s brother explained that the accused had embarrassing pictures and videos of his sister.