New Delhi: Taking cognizance of the rise in crimes against women, including sexual assault, the Centre has issued a fresh advisory to all states and UTs on mandatory action by police for such crimes.
The advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs came in the wake of the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh that sparked huge outrage across the country.
The advisory says:
- There should be compulsory registration of an FIR in case of a cognisable offence under the CrPC. The law also enables the police to register an FIR or a “Zero FIR”, in case the crime is committed outside the jurisdiction of police station, in the event of receipt of information on commission of a cognisable offence, which includes cases of sexual assault on women.
- Section 166 A(c) of the IPC provides for punishment to a public servant for failure to record FIR in relation to cognizable offences punishable under Sections 326A, 326B, 354, 354B, 370, 370A, 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB, 376E or 509.
- The home ministry told the states and UT administrations that the Section 173 of CrPC provides for completion of police investigation in relation to rape in two months and Section 164-A of CrPC provides that in rape or sexual assault investigation, the victim should 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.
- The advisory further says that 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 (or her) death or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his (or her) death.
“Supreme Court in its order on January 7, 2020 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 making of the statement,” it said.
- It is necessary to use the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (SAEC) kits in every case of sexual assault reported for which the home ministry has been regularly conducting training and Training of Trainers (TOT) programmes on procedure for collection, preservation and handling of forensic evidence for police and prosecutors and medical officers respectively.
- In order to facilitate the state police to monitor compliance, the home ministry said, an online portal called Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) for monitoring the same has been available exclusively to law enforcement officers.
- However, even with stringent provisions in law and several capacity building measures undertaken, any failure of police to adhere to these mandatory requirements may not augur well for the delivery of criminal justice in the country, especially in the context of women safety.
Such lapses, if noticed, need to be investigated into and stringent action taken immediately against the concerned officers responsible for the same.
- It is requested that States and UTs, may suitably issue instructions to all concerned to ensure strict compliance with the provisions in the law…It is also requested to monitor the cases on ITSSO to ensure that suitable follow up action is taken for the charge-sheet of the guilty in a timely manner as required in the law.