SC orders probe into wife-swap by navy officers

NEW DELHI: In what could be a first, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Kerala government to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the sensational allegations of a Navy officer’s estranged wife that her husband and his colleagues on INS Kochi indulged in wife-swapping and tortured her because of her refusal to join them. The SIT has been asked to complete the investigation within three months.

A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit rejected the complainant’s plea for a CBI probe into the allegations but said, “The facts and circumstances in which the offence is alleged to have been committed can be better investigated into by the state police.”

‘Was tortured for not joining’

A year after her wedding, the petitioner on April 4, 2013 lodged a complaint against her husband, parents-in-law and sister-in-law alleging that they had subjected her to physical and mental cruelty.

She also accused five naval officers and the wife of one of them of sexually abusing her. In a subsequent complaint, the petitioner made the allegation of wife-swapping and implicated a few more persons. She had petitioned the apex court in 2013 seeking transfer of proceedings pending before the Kerala high court, which had ordered a thorough investigation into the matter, to Delhi HC alleging that she faced a threat to her life in Kerala. In September 2013, the SC stayed proceedings in the Kerala HC.

Justice Banumathi rejected her plea for a CBI probe, saying, “Mere apprehension that the accused are influential may not be sufficient to transfer the case. Since a special team of state police officers is constituted for further investigation, we are not inclined to order transfer of the proceedings pending before Kerala HC to Delhi HC.”

The SC in September 2013 had permitted the woman to make the Centre a party to her petition and issued notices to the Kerala government, the commander of Southern Naval Command, her husband and five other officers.

The petitioner had alleged that after getting married in March 2012, she had accompanied her husband to Kochi. She accused her husband of forcing her to take part in “wife swapping” parties and annexed with her petition some purported invitation cards for the purpose.

She had accused her husband of torturing her for refusing to join these parties. She also claimed to have caught her husband in a compromising position with a senior officer’s wife and alleged that since then, there had been efforts to declare her insane. She also alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her husband’s friends, colleagues and superiors. The Harbour Police station in Kochi had lodged an FIR on her complaint naming her husband, his family members and five naval officers.
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