A fast track court in Guwahati on Friday 7 December convicted 11 persons, while acquitting four, including the TV news channel reporter Gaurab Jyoti Neog in the molestation case where a minor girl was molested in Guwahati on 9 July this year, in the presence of public, with TV news channel recording the entire act.
On Friday, CJM Siddharth Pratim Moitra pronounced his verdict where 11 out of the 15 accused were convicted under section 143, 341,323 and 354 of the IPC and have been. Four others – TV reporter Gaurab Jyoti Neog, Diganta Basumatary, Hafizuddin and Jitumoni Deka were acquitted of the charges due to ‘insufficient evidences.’
The 11 convicts – main accused Amarjyoti Kalita, and the others – Nabajyoti Barua, Dipak Deb, Puspendra Das, Dhanraj Basfor, Rubul Ali, Sikandar Basfor, Debo Das, Rupkanta Kalita, Ghanashyam Malik and Nabajit Deka were sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment.
The incident had brought sharp criticism against the Assam Police and also raised questions on media ethics. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Assam Police investigated the case and arrested 16 persons including a TV News channel reporter Gaurab Jyoti Neog. They were chargesheeted under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) like 143 – unlawful assembly, 341- wrongful restraint, 294 – obscene act, 323 – voluntarily causing hurt, 354 – assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty. One of the accused is being tried under Juvenile Law Board. The trail for the rest 15 accused started in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Guwahati on 19 September.
RTI activist Akhil Gogoi had released videos of the incident to media alleging that the TV reporter Guarab Jyoti Neog, of the news channel News Live, had ‘orchestrated’ the entire episode to generate ‘sensational news.’ The footage of recording of the incident was siezed from News Live and another TV news channel DY 365. The footage by Gogoi was also seized and sent for examination at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh. Voice samples of the TV reporter Gaurab Jyoti Neog was also collected and sent to CFSL for sample matching.
The court, in its judgment, observed that the CFSL could not conclude if the voice in the seized video tapes using vulgar words at the victim were that of the TV reporter Gaurab Jyoti. Thus, the court has acquitted him and three others on ‘benefit of doubt.’
The court also questioned the role of the SIT of Assam Police that probed the case. “The evidence on record reflects that due to ignorance about the process, the controlled voice sample of S/I had been taken in haste and amateurishly. It is not understood why the investigating team got the Controlled Voice Sample of accused Gaurab Jyoti Neog recorded by a studio photographer when the CID has got their own experts in this line. The investigating team could easily collect the voice sample of the said accused with the help of the experts of the CID or with the assistance of the Forensic experts. In the present era, voice matching is a very common practice and done easily, if the sample is collected with precision. Thus, by such act of non-professional approach and lack of precision, the investigating team has allowed to waste a vital evidence,” the court stated in the order, a copy of which is available with TEHELKA.
Sources said that the convicts would appeal against the verdict in a higher court.
Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.