SC to decide on using Skype for cross-examining rape victim

SC to decide on using Skype for cross-examining rape victim

The Supreme Court will examine whether a rape victim can be cross-examined via Skype or VSNL video conferencing after the accused in the Kalighat rape case objected to the manner of recording her statement by a trial court.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and R Banumathi will decide if there should be fresh examination of the victim, an Irish national, as the accused in the 2013 Kalighat rape case claimed that the image of the victim during her recording of statement through Skype was blurred.

Senior advocate R Basanth, appearing for the petitioner Sujoy Mitra, contended that proceedings before the trial court was vitiated as the trial judge recorded that the video was not clear.

The victim was being examined through Skype and she was using her own computer. She kept looking down and her demeanour was not recorded by the trial judge, he contended.

To this, the bench stated: “You (accused) commit rape on a foreign national who comes here. Now you expect her to come here each time she is required for trial.”

To this, the counsel responded that the video conferencing should be done in a proper manner. He said it should be done through VSNL studio only from the embassy.
He further claimed that the technology allowed to be used by the trial court affected cross examination of the victim.

The court, however, posted the matter for consideration on Monday, while asking the counsel to ascertain if VSNL studio was available in Kolkata or not.

The petitioners challenged the high court order of June 17 affirming the trial court's decision allowing the Irish-victim’s examination through video conferencing.

The court had also directed that the trial court must be satisfied about the identity of the witness giving evidence through video conference. The victim, a resident of Dublin, visited Kolkata in June 2013.

According to the prosecution, Mitra, son of a businessman, had met the foreigner at a nightclub and brought her to his residence on the pretext of giving her a lift till Kalighat in south Kolkata, where she stayed in a budget hotel close to his house.
She has stated that he got her drunk and then raped her.

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