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SC: Suo Motu Writ Petition Criminal registered with the caption “Assessment of the Criminal Justice

IN RE: ASSESSMENT OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN RESPONSE TO SEXUAL OFFENCES, SMW (CRL.) No(s).04 OF 2019 – On 18th December 2019,

The Supreme Court, the bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde issued a notice on its own motion (Suo Motu Writ Petition) to Centre, state governments and Union Territories for assessment of the criminal justice system in response to sexual offences. This was done by the court after the shock remained in the society with respect to the Nirbhaya Case.

“As per the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau of Crime in India in the year 2017, total 32,559 cases of rape were registered in India. The delay in such matters has, in recent times, created agitation, anxiety and unrest in the minds of the people.”

The report shall be included by a probe, collection of evidence, forensic and medical evidence, recording of statement of victim and time frame for trial.

The court said that it is the time to make alterations and adding the implementation of provisions of criminal law, including the said amendments, relating to rape cases and other sexual offences. The court further said if it is found necessary to get some information with respect to the status submitted, the duty holders like investigation agencies, prosecution, medico-forensic agencies, rehabilitation, legal aid agencies and also Courts to get a holistic view to make criminal justice system responsive in the cases of this nature can be called to get a complete view of the case.

In the new amendments, the registration of FIR in cases of rape and sexual offences, Medical treatment and examination of the victim is a very important aspect not only for the immediate relief to the victim but also provides intrinsic evidences for the trial.

The above said amendments are included in Section 1 of Section 154 of the Cr.P.C  and Section 357C of Cr.P.C respectively. The SC has called for the reports and status as there are appropriate situations for such calls made.

Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to as ‘Two-finger test’ are conducted properly was put as a question by the SC. Forensic examination and report play an important role during the investigation as well as trial for linking the culprit with the crime. This is another important query on which the state courts and officials are asked to submit the status report.

“With the advancement of DNA science and its accuracy, the sampling for the purpose of Forensic examination and expeditious reports after a due examination is vital to the just adjudication of the case. The sampling for the purpose of DNA test as well other forensic tests like forensic odontology is essential in cases relating to rape.”

The courts’s major concern was on a speedy trial of the cases relating to the offence of rape, so the records relating to the availability of the courts, official to conduct examination was also asked by the court to answer their questions.

As the victim goes through a mental trauma and requires immediate counselling, legal aid and medical, social and in some cases, economic rehabilitation.

The SC sought the answers for the question; “whether any state has prepared a policy with regard to the counselling of the victim and medical, social and in some cases, economic rehabilitation of the victim?  whether there are any counselling/rehabilitation centres in existence for the victims of rape?” through the submission of status report

The setting up of  Nirbhaya fund was questioned by the court whether the utilization of that organisation was used for optimaization or for what purpose it was done was achieved.

The SC has requested  Shri Sidharth Luthra, Senior Advocate and The learned Solicitor General is requested to extend all co-operation to compare and check all the information and status. Next step to suggest measures for making the criminal justice system more efficacious and responsive towards the offence of rape and other sexual offences is also requested to be helped by them as an Amis Curiae (partial law adviser).

The SC may also call all the Chief Secretaries, DG Police of all States and Registrar General of all High Courts for getting the records when required. The SC finally said the matter registered as a Suo Motu Writ Petition Criminal with the caption “Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in response to Sexual Offences” to be listed on 7th February 2020.

–  Manusri Ramakrishna

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