The government of India (MHA) has taken steps to strengthen legislative provisions to deal with sexual offences against women and girls.
The government of India has also issued various advisories to the States/ Union Territories from time-to-time emphasizing the strict actions to be taken by the police in cases of crime against women, including in cases of sexual assault, which includes registration of FIR, collection of evidence for forensic examination and use of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (SAEC) Kit, completion of investigation in sexual assault cases in two months, use of National Database on Sexual Offenders for identifying and tracking repeat sexual offenders, etc.
Criminal laws relating to sexual offences against women provide, inter-alia, for the following actions to be taken by the Police in such cases:
(i) Compulsory registration of FIR in case of a cognizable offence under sub-section (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). The law also enables the police to register FIR or a “Zero FIR” (in case the crime is committed outside the police station) in the event of receipt of the information on the commission of a cognizable offence, which includes cases of sexual assault on women.
Punishment to a Public Servant
(ii) 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 punishable under section 326A, Section 326B, Section 354, Section 354B, Section 370, Section 370A, Section 376, Section 376A, Section 376AB, Section 376B, Section 376C, Section 376D, Section 376DA, Section 376DB, Section 376E or Section 509 in IPC.
Police Investigation in 2 months | Rape
(iii) Section 173 of CrPC provides the police investigation concerning rape in two months. 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.
Registered Medical Practitioner
(iv) 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 twenty-four hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the commission of such offence.
(v) 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 the making of the statement.
(vi)The Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS) under the MHA has issued Guidelines for collection, preservation & transportation of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases for Investigation Officers and Medical Officers. To facilitate the State Police, the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has issued the 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. MHA advisory dated 5th October 2020 in this matter may be referred. BPR&D and LNJN National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences (NICFS) have been regularly conducting Training and Training of Trainers (ToT) programs on the procedure for collection, preservation, and handling of forensic evidence for Police/Prosecutors and Medical Officers, respectively.
Further, MHA stated, any failure of police to adhere to the mandatory requirements may not augur well for the delivery of criminal justice in the country, especially in the context of women’s safety. Such lapses, if noticed, need to be investigated and stringent action taken immediately against the officers concerned responsible for the same.
Read the Advisory here: ADVISORY.
Ministry of Home and Affairs [Advisory dt. 09-10-2020]