NEW DELHI, January 8 ‚ÄĒ The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the Chhattisgarh government to move Soni Sori, a tribal schoolteacher who has suffered sexual violence at the hands of the police and prison authorities, to a prison near her family.
Soni had moved the apex court asking to be shifted out of the prison in Raipur city, the capital of Chhattisgarh, because her family had trouble visiting her there. Also, she had complained of hardships including a lack of food during the 15-hour one-way journey to a court at Dantewada, 350km south of Raipur, where she is being prosecuted for allegedly being a Maoist rebel.
The court bench comprising of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Vikramajit Sen and J Chelameswar ordered that she be moved to the prison in Jagdalpur city, which is only 80km from Dantewada.
The next date of hearing in the Supreme Court is March 5. “While on one hand the Chief Justice of India is pushing for quicker judicial response to crimes against women, Soni Sori’s case would now be heard only two months from now,”¬†activist Himanshu Kumar told Tehelka.
Sori had earlier complained about inhuman treatment being meted out to her in Raipur jail and had accused a senior police officer Ankit Garg of sexual torture in police custody. In a medical examination conducted on her by the orders of Supreme Court, several stones were recovered from her private parts.
Soni Sori is one of the biggest symbols of police atrocity and torture in this country. ¬†¬†Sori fled the state fearing for her life and reached New Delhi seeking legal assistance.¬†A teacher in a government primary school in Jabeli village, Dantewada, Sori was arrested in Delhi by the Chhattisgarh police in October 2011 for being a ‚ÄúMaoist on the run‚ÄĚ. She was charged by the police, along with her nephew, for acting as a conduit of Maoists to collect protection money from an Essar contractor. Charges of conspiracy, sedition, waging war against the state and those related to contributing to terrorist activity and raising funds for terrorist activity have been slapped against her in seven cases she is fighting in Dantewada.