The Supreme Court on Friday cleared hurdles coming in the way of CBI investigation into posting of rape videos on WhatsApp, by asking it to take over probe from Uttar Pradesh police relating to an FIR lodged at Sitapur district in which three accused are already out on bail.
“We direct that investigation in the FIR lodged in 2014 at Sitapur (UP) is transferred to the CBI...We also make it clear that the CBI can conduct further investigation and file fresh charge sheets in the case,” the social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said.
The court’s direction came when Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, said that there can be a legal bar as UP police had already registered an FIR in one of the matters where accused were charged under milder penal provisions and they are currently out on bail.
“There cannot be two FIRs in one incident. We need a court order on this,” the ASG said and submitted the status report to the bench in a sealed cover on the probe conducted so far in the sensational case.
Expressing satisfaction over the progress made by CBI in the probe, the bench said that they have registered eight regular cases (RCs) and one PE (preliminary investigation) and so far, identified culprits in two cases.
The photographs of culprits have already been shared with the DGPs of states concerned and they are being publicized also and moreover, the agency has also announced a reward of Rs one lakh for the informant, the court said after perusing the status report.
In one of the videos, it appeared that the offence of sexual assault has been committed outside the country and the probe agency taking steps to verify it, the bench said.
The ASG assured the court that the agency will ensure that the identity of the victims are not disclosed.
On the issue of blocking of websites, where offensive sexual assault videos were posted, he said, “it is being discussed at higher levels”.
The bench, meanwhile, took note of non-filing of reply by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on alleged inaction for over 20 days on posting of rape videos. The ASG said that it would be filed shortly.