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Fast-track recording of rape victims’ statements: Supreme Court

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16586_10151188594586342_1275802587_nConsidering the consistent recurrence of rape incidents all over the country, the Supreme Court has ordered fast tracking the procedure for recording statements of the victim and witnesses.

Giving a series of directions, a Bench of Justices Gyan Sudha Mishra (since retired) and V. Gopala Gowda said “upon receipt of information relating to the commission of offence of rape, the Investigating Officer shall make immediate steps to take the victim to any Metropolitan/preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate for the purpose of recording her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C.”

The bench emphasised that the recording of evidence of the victim and other witnesses multiple times ought to be put to an end which was the primary reason for delay of the trial. It said “We are of the view that it is high time such measures of reform in the Cr. P.C. be introduced after deliberation and debate by the legal fraternity.”

The Bench said “if the evidence recorded for the first time itself be kept in sealed cover to be produced and treated as deposition of the witnesses and hence admissible at the stage of trial with liberty to the defence to cross-examine them with further liberty to the accused to lead his defence witness and other evidence with a right to cross-examination by the prosecution, it can surely cut short and curtail the protracted trial.”

The Bench said if such a procedure was introduced at least for trial of rape cases it was bound to reduce the duration of trial and thus offer a speedy remedy by way of a fast track procedure.

The Bench said “If there is any delay exceeding 24 hours in taking the victim to the Magistrate, the Investigating Officer should record the reasons for the same in the case diary and hand over a copy of the same to the Magistrate. Section 164 A Cr.P.C. imposes an obligation on the part of Investigating Officer to get the victim of the rape immediately medically examined. A copy of the medical report should be immediately handed over to the Magistrate who records the statement of the victim under Section 164 Cr.P.C.”

Following are the detailed guidelines issued by the Supreme Court:

(i) Upon receipt of information relating to the commission of offence of rape, the Investigating Officer shall make immediate steps to take the victim to any Metropolitan/preferably Judicial Magistrate for the purpose of recording her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. A copy of the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. should be handed over to the Investigating Officer immediately with a specific direction that the contents of such statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. should not be disclosed to any person till charge sheet/report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. is filed.

(ii) The Investigating Officer shall as far as possible take the victim to the nearest Lady Metropolitan/preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate.

(iii) The Investigating Officer shall record specifically the date and the time at which he learnt about the commission of the offence of rape and the date and time at which he took the victim to the Metropolitan/preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate as aforesaid.

(iv) If there is any delay exceeding 24 hours in taking the victim to the Magistrate, the Investigating Officer should record the reasons for the same in the case diary and hand over a copy of the same to the Magistrate.

(v) Medical Examination of the victim: Section 164 A Cr.P.C. inserted by Act 25 of 2005 in Cr.P.C. imposes an obligation on the part of Investigating Officer to get the victim of the rape immediately medically examined. A copy of the report of such medical examination should be immediately handed over to the Magistrate who records the statement of the victim under Section 164 Cr.P.C.

The Bench directed that a copy of this order thus be circulated to all the Director Generals of Police of all the States/Commissioner of Police in Metropolitan cities/ Commissioner of Police of Union Territories. The Bench made it clear that the authorities must send a copy of this order to all the police stations in charge in their States/Union Territories for its compliance in cases which are registered on or after the receipt of a copy of these directions.

Necessary instructions by the DGPs/ Commissioners of Police be also issued to all the police station in-charge by the DGPs/Commissioner of Police incorporating the directions. The Bench directed the matter to be posted again after four weeks to ensure compliance of this order.

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