The Supreme Court of India in Sujatha Ravi Kiran @ Sujatasahu Vs. State of Kerala has ordered the Kerala Police to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the allegations of wife-swapping raised by the estranged wife of a Navy officer in Kerala.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit, declined the plea of CBI probe to inquire into the sexual assault case the woman lodged in Kochi.
“It is well settled that the extraordinary power of the constitutional courts in directing CBI to conduct investigation in a case must be exercised rarely in exceptional circumstances, especially, when there is lack of confidence in the investigating agency or in the national interest and for doing complete justice in the matter.”
the bench said.
Wife-Swapping Charge in Navy
A DIG rank officer will head the SIT. The SC asked the state police to conduct the probe within three months. Besides her husband, four other officers and the spouse of one officer indulged in the said offence, said the petitioner.
The 26-year-old wife had filed the petition in 2013 alleging that the police in Kerala, where her husband was based, and the Navy authorities were harassing her rather than acting on her complaint.
A year after her wedding, the petitioner on April 4, 2013 lodged a complaint against her husband, parents-in-law and sister-in-law alleging that they had subjected her to physical and mental cruelty.
She also accused five Navy officers and the wife of one of them of sexually abusing her. In a subsequent complaint, the petitioner made the allegation of wife-swapping and implicated a few more persons.
She had petitioned the apex court in 2013 seeking transfer of proceedings pending before the Kerala high court, which had ordered a thorough investigation into the matter, to Delhi HC alleging that she faced a threat to her life in Kerala. In September 2013, the SC stayed proceedings in the Kerala HC.
Justice Banumathi rejected her plea for a CBI probe, saying,
“Mere apprehension that the accused are influential may not be sufficient to transfer the case. Since a special team of state police officers is constituted for further investigation, we are not inclined to order transfer of the proceedings pending before Kerala HC to Delhi HC.”