Rape trials still tardy, insensitive to victims

In December 2012, Delhi saw one of the country’s most horrific gang-rapes which was followed with nationwide protests demanding change in rape laws.

Published: 16th July 2017 08:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2017 08:25 AM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: In December 2012, Delhi saw one of the country’s most horrific gang-rapes which was followed with nationwide protests demanding change in rape laws. But after four-and-a-half years, victims of rape and sexual assault are still facing systemic insensitivity and slow pace of judicial system, finds a study.

The study, conducted by Partners for Law in Development, an NGO, at the behest of Delhi High Court, has revealed that fast-track courts still move at the same pace as earlier. The report has been submitted to the Ministry of Law and Justice, which is studying the recommendations made in it.

The NGO has analysed 16 rape cases from January 2014 to March 2015. Its report reveals that police personnel are still not sensitised to deal with rape survivors and it took several days for a victim to get an FIR registered in a few cases.

As per the amended law, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) gives a stipulated period of two months for completion of trial of rape cases but on the contrary, the report reveals that it takes nearly eight months for a fast-track court in the National Capital to record the statement of a rape survivor.

However, the study has suggested that the timeline of two months is unrealistic, stating that day-to-day trial should be conducted so that the victim’s statement can be recorded without any flip-flop. This will also save her from undue pressure.

The report clarifies that delay in courts happen due to several factors such as delay in getting FSL reports, adjournments, increasing case load and vacancies at the judiciary level.

It has also recommended that questions on behalf of the lawyer for the accused should be mandatorily routed through the judges since defence questions are inevitably hostile, often sexually explicit and intended to insinuate lack of resistance to imply consent.

A study, conducted by NGO Partners for Law in Development, at the behest of Delhi High Court, has sought training for all the agencies involved in investigation and prosecution of rape cases. It has highlighted the need for a specialised agency such as a one-stop crisis centre to provide necessary response to help victims of sexual assault and enable the victim navigate the legal procedure.

“It is imperative to shield and protect the victims and witnesses beyond deposition during the trial since accused persons and their families had access to the survivors outside court complexes,” the report states.
The victims are often seen unguided by prosecution over the legal process and in some cases the lawyers do not even meet them before the case gets first hearing in the court, the report highlights.

The study, which highlighted absence of support services for the victims, said these are a must to help victims get compensation, pre-trial orientation, counselling and access to rehabilitation.

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