NEW DELHI: In December 2012, the national capital witnessed the gang rape and subsequent death of a young woman which galvanized the nation and captured the attention of the world. Massive protests were held across the country, in response to which promises were made by the government to change laws, deliver speedy justice to rape victims. However, after five years, the victims of rape and sexual assault still face the same insensitiveness and slow pace of judicial system.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, more popularly called the Anti-Rape Bill, sets a deadline of two months for the completion of trial in rape and sexual assault cases. However, on an average, the trial takes nearly eight months for a fast track court in Delhi to record the statement of a rape survivor.
Very few states have taken the initiative to speed up trials in such cases and have set up fast-track courts to speedily dispose of cases relating to sexual offences.
Experts claim that the delay, however, cannot be solely attributed to the courts. Several factors such as delayed forensic reports, repeated adjournments by either party in the case, increasing case load and vacancies at the judiciary level, contribute to the overall delay in delivering justice to the victims.
An FSL report takes at least six months to come out, but there are exceptions when reports have been released early because of court orders. The delay in submitting FSL reports not only hampers the trial but also severely affects the rights of the accused.
To correct the loopholes, vast areas of the criminal justice delivery system need reform, investment and infrastructure upgrades, appointing more judges and prosecutors, creating more courtrooms, separating investigating and policing responsibilities is needed.