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Provide legal help & compensation and protect identity of victims of sexual assault

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum v Union of India and Others / Citations: 1995 SCC (1) 14, JT 1994 (7) 183 / Supreme Court of India

In this petition under A. 32 of the Constitution of India the Organisation had asked for a fast trial and compensation for the victims of rape, who here belonging to ST category and were raped and abused by army personnel on their way to Delhi on Muri Express. The accused were finally charged with the Sections 376B (     Intercourse by public servant with woman is his custody) and 341 IPC (wrongful restraint).

The SC pointed out the defects of the criminal justice system that, complaints are handled roughly and not given warranted attention. The victims are mostly humiliated by the police, finding rape trials a traumatic experience. The experience of giving evidence in court has been negative and destructive for them, as they often say that, they considered the ordeal to be even worse than the rape itself.

In this case the SC found it necessary to indicate the broad parameters for assisting the victims of rape, which are as follows:

(1)The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with legal representation. It is important to have someone who is well-acquainted with the criminal justice system. The role of the victim”s advocate would not only be to explain to the victim the nature of the proceedings, to prepare her for the case and to assist her in the hicallyslot.org police station and in court but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies, for example, mind counselling or medical assistance. It is important to secure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who looked after the complainant”s interests in the police station should represent her till the end of the case.

(2)Legal assistance will have to be provided at the police station since the victim of sexual assault might very well be in a distressed state upon arrival at the police station, the guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage and whilst she was being questioned would be of great assistance to her.

(3)The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions were asked of her and that the police report should state that the victim was so informed.

(4)A list of advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims who did not have a particular lawyer in mind or whose own lawyer was unavailable.

(5)The advocate shall be appointed by the court, upon application by the police at the earliest convenient moment, but in order to ensure that victims were questioned without undue delay, though, advocates would be authorised to act at the police station before leave of the court was sought or obtained.

(6)In all rape trials anonymity of the victim must be maintained, as far as necessary.

(7)It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(1) of the Constitution of India to set up Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some, for example, are too traumatised to continue in employment.

The National Commission for Women were asked by the SC to evolve such scheme as to wipe out the tears of such unfortunate victims andthe scheme was required to be prepared within six months from the date of this judgment. Thereupon, the Union of India, would examine the same and should take necessary steps for the implementation of the scheme at the earliest. The scheme were also formulated by the NCW which is being implemented though very slowly.

DELHI DOMESTIC WORKING WOMEN FORUM vs UNION OF INDIA – 1994SC

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