The Delhi High Court Thursday granted transit anticipatory bail till October 28 to senior IAS officer and chairman and managing director of the Delhi Financial Corporation Jitendra Narain for his alleged involvement in a rape case while he was the chief secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Narain’s bail application was listed before a single judge bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna. The HC held: “It would not be appropriate to consider the allegations and counter allegations at this stage as it may prejudice the case of either party. Rather it would be in the fitness of things the court concerned who is seized of the matter should look into merit/demerit of the case.”
The High Court noted that the petitioner, Narain, was only asking for protection to avail “legal remedy before the Court at Circuit Bench at Andaman and Nicobar Islands in Port Blair” which is functional till October 28.
“Considering the submissions and without giving any opinion on merits, I deem it appropriate to allow the petitioner to avail his legal remedy to approach the Court at Port Blair till 28.10.2022 and is protected only till that date,” the HC held. The court further directed that the order of protection from arrest shall automatically be vacated on October 29 and that no further extension shall be given to Narain.
Narain argued that this was a false, motivated and malicious complaint lodged against him by the woman. It was argued that the woman, in her first complaint, gave two dates — April 14 and May 1 — to the police when the rape was allegedly committed.
It was argued that Narain was not in Andaman and Nicobar Islands between April 11 and April 18 and had purportedly filed sufficient evidence for the same. It was also stated that Narain was present at his residence on May 1 along with his family members and guests and such an incident could not have happened in their presence.
Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa and advocate Gaurav Gupta appeared for Narain.
The Special Public Prosecutor for the state of Delhi argued that the bail should not be granted, “looking at the gravity of the offence”. He added that there is sufficient evidence against Narain based on the woman’s statement, which is “corroborated by the statement of a protected witness” made under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as electronic evidence gathered so far. He further argued that there were “instances of tampering of evidence” by the petitioner as well.
On October 1, an FIR was lodged against Narain and RL Rishi, posted as labour commissioner in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, at the Aberdeen police station, Port Blair, based on the woman’s complaint. The police have set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the allegations. In the FIR (No. 165/2022), the complainant has asked that CCTV footage from Narain’s house should be collected and that she would identify his staff who should also be questioned.
The woman’s complaint gives a detailed account of the purported violent sexual attack on her on two occasions in April and May at Narain’s official residence in Port Blair.
She has alleged in her complaint, that while searching for a job she was introduced to the labour commissioner through a hotel owner and the commissioner took her to the residence of the chief secretary. There, she said, she was offered liquor which she refused and was assured government employment. Subsequently, she alleged, she was brutally and sexually abused by the two men.
She has further alleged that two weeks later she was again called at 9 pm to the chief secretary’s residence and the assault was repeated. Instead of the promised government job she was allegedly threatened with dire consequences if she spoke about the matter to anyone.
Narain has reportedly claimed, in his written denials, that the accusations were at the behest of local officers against whom he had taken action as chief secretary and they were behind a “malicious” campaign against him. He has said he would fully cooperate with the police and was willing to face trial.
The Centre on Monday had issued a statement suspending Narain with “immediate effect” after the Home Ministry received a report on the matter from Andaman and Nicobar police on October 16.
“The Ministry (of Home Affairs) received a report on 16.10.2022 from Andaman & Nicobar Police regarding the alleged sexual assault of a lady by Sh. Jitendra Narain, IAS (AGMUT:1990), the then Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and others. As the Report indicated the possibility of grave misconduct and misuse of official position on the part of Sh. Jitendra Narain, IAS (AGMUT:1990), the Union Home Minister directed to take immediate strict action against the officer concerned as per law. Accordingly, Sh. Jitendra Narain, IAS (AGMUT:1990) has been placed under suspension with immediate effect and disciplinary proceedings have been ordered against him,” a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs said.
“The Government is committed to ensuring zero tolerance towards the acts of indiscipline by its officials irrespective of their rank and status, especially with regard to incidents involving the dignity of women. An FIR has been registered and action in the criminal case is being taken separately by the SIT of Andaman & Nicobar Police,” the statement added.