Virginity Test Of Woman Accused In Custody Unconstitutional, Rules Delhi HC

Bhubaneswar: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ruled that virginity test of any woman accused in police or judicial custody or during investigation is unconstitutional.

The High Court announced its judgment after hearing a petition filed by Sister Sephy from Kerala. The petitioner moved the court against the ‘virginity test’ conducted on her by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on November 19, 2008 during a murder investigation. The case related to alleged murder of Sister Abhaya in a convent in Kottayam, Kerala in 1992.

“The anxiety, stress, and sense of being stigmatised suffered by the petitioner, in this case, cannot be held to be constitutionally protected human right but remedy against the same may lie elsewhere under the law of defamation,” the Indian Express quoted Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma as saying in the order.

Holding that the virginity test in such case leads to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution which includes the right to dignity, the Judge said the right to dignity in custody and actions considered defamatory of the investigating agency are rights independent of each other. The protection of reputation can be in the context of a defamation case.

“The question regarding grant of compensation or as to whether custodial torture had been caused to the petitioner or not has to be decided by National Human Rights Commission,” the court said.

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