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Ensure police follow SOP in crimes against women, MHA to States

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory to all States regarding “mandatory action by police in crime against women”.

The Ministry reiterated that the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides that the statement, written or verbal, by a person who is dead shall be treated as relevant fact in the investigation.

Recently, the role of Uttar Pradesh police had come under scanner after the Hathras gang rape incident when a 19-year-old woman had given a statement from hospital bed that she was sexually assaulted by four men from her village. Police claimed that the forensic examination had established that the victim was not raped. She later succumbed to injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital.

SC ruling

“Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides that the statement, written or verbal, by a person who is dead shall be treated as relevant fact in the investigation when the statement is made by a person as to the cause of his death, or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated 7th January 2020, in the matter of Criminal Appeal Nos. 194-195 of 2012 in the case of Purshottam Chopra & Anr. v. State (Govt. of NCT Delhi), directed that a particular statement, when being offered as dying declaration and satisfies all the requirements of judicial scrutiny, cannot be discarded merely because it has not been recorded by a Magistrate or that the police officer did not obtain attestation by any person present at the time of making of the statement,” MHA’s advisory said.

The MHA also said Section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure provides for completion of investigation in rape cases within two months.

“In order to facilitate the State police to monitor compliance, in this regard MHA has provided an online portal called Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) for monitoring the same. This is available exclusively to law enforcement officers,” the Ministry said.

It reminded the States regarding compulsory registration of FIR in cases of cognizable offences.

“The law also enables the police to register FIR or a ‘Zero FIR’ (in case the crime is committed outside the jurisdiction of police station) in the event of receipt of information on commission of a cognizable offence, which includes cases of sexual assault on women,” the Ministry said.

Officials accountable

It added that Section 166 A(c) of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) provides for punishment to a public servant for failure to record FIR in relation to cognizable offences including cases of sexual assault.

The MHA said section 164-A of CrPC provides that in rape/sexual assault investigation, the victim shall be examined by a registered medical practitioner under consent within 24 hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the commission of such offence.

MHA also asked States to adhere to the guidelines issued by Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS) for collection, preservation and transportation of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. “In order to facilitate the State Police, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has issued Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (SAEC) Kits to every State/UT. It is necessary to use these SAEC kits in every case of sexual assault reported,” it said.

MHA asked States to investigate lapses in matters of women safety.

“However, even with stringent provisions in law and several capacity building measures undertaken, any failure of police to adhere to these mandatory requirements may not augur well for the delivery of criminal justice in the country, especially in context of women safety. Such lapses, if noticed, need to be investigated into and stringent action taken immediately against the concerned officers responsible for the same,” MHA said.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 1:01:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-issues-fresh-advisory-to-states-on-women-safety/article32819423.ece

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