A bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar stayed the trial while asking the Orissa government and others to respond to the nun’s plea and posted the matter for further hearing on March 22.
The apex court’s order came on an appeal by the victim seeking recall of prosecution witness Sadar SDM and his cross-examination as she alleged he, in his test identification parade (TIP) report, had wrongly said that one of the accused Santosh Patnaik “did not commit any other overt act” against her.
According to the SDM’s TIP report, Patnaik “gave her (victim) a slap, pulled her saree, squeezed her breasts and did not commit any other overt act.”
The nun had sought SDM’s cross-examination or alternatively wanted him to be declared a hostile witness, but both the trial court and the Orissa High Court had turned down her plea, saying a request for cross-examination of a prosecution witness could be made either by the public prosecutor or upon court’s direction.
The apex court said it would examine the matter at length as an important question of law under Section 311 and 301 of the CrPC relating to rights of a complainant to cross-examine a witness was involved.
As many as 38 people were killed in the Kandhamal riots during 2008 and the nun was allegedly gang-raped by religious fanatics.
The riots occurred in Kandhamal, a tribal-dominated district, in the aftermath of the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati at the Jalespata Ashram on August 23, 2008.