Virginity test conducted on a female detainee or accused under investigation whether in judicial or police custody is unconstitutional, the Delhi High Court held on Tuesday.
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the virginity test conducted on Sister Sephy,
A single judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma held that the virginity test conducted on Sister Sephy, convicted for the murder of Sister Abhaya in 1992 in Kerala, was unconstitutional, and further observed that the basic dignity of a person in custody has to be upheld, which had been flouted in this case.
Justice Sharma further granted liberty to Sister Sephy to seek compensation for violation of her human rights after the criminal case is over. With the CBI taking an objection over the issue of territorial jurisdiction, the judge said authorities like National Human Rights Commission India (NHRC) are in Delhi and therefore, part of the cause of action has arisen in Delhi.
Sister Abhaya was found dead in a well at the St Pius Convent in Kottayam district of Kerala on 27 March, 1992. Local police and the crime branch at the time said it was a case of suicide.
the CBI took over the case
In 1993, the CBI took over the case when Sister Banicassia, Mother Superior, and 67 other nuns from the Knanaya Catholic Church that Abhaya was part of, wrote to then chief minister K Karunakaran claiming the probe was not conducted properly.
In 2009, the CBI in its charge sheet said the deceased had apparently seen Sister Sephy, Father Kottoor and a third accused, Father Jose Poothrikkayil, in a compromising position.
In December 2020, the special CBI court confirmed this finding and held that Sister Sephy and Father Kottoor had inflicted a fatal blow on the victim’s head, causing her death.
The special CBI court had sent Sister Sephy and Father Kottoor to life imprisonment for the offence of murder under the IPC. In June last year, the Kerala high court had suspended the sentence and granted bail to the convicts.
Sister Sephy moved the Delhi High Court challenging the virginity test conducted on her. A detailed copy of the judgment is awaited.