The Women Safety Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory to all States regarding “mandatory action by police in crimes against women”.
The States have been instructed to investigate and take stringent action against the concerned officers who do not follow the procedure laid down for investigation under CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act.
Recently, the role of Uttar Pradesh police had come under scanner after the Hathras gang rape incident when a 19-year-old woman had given a statement from hospital bed that she was sexually assaulted by four men from her village. Police claimed that the forensic examination had established that the victim was not raped. She later succumbed to injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has reminded the Police departments 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.
Section 32(1) of 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 death, or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. In Purshottam Chopra & Anr. v. State (Govt. of NCT Delhi), the Supreme Court 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.
The MHA, through this advisory, reminded the Police departments of "Zero Number FIR", in case the crime is committed outside the jurisdiction of the police station.
The MHA also reminded the states, Section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides for completion of investigation in rape cases within two months.
It is further reminded the state governments and the administrators of the UT’s that Section 166 A(c) of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) provides for punishment to a public servant for failure to record FIR in relation to cognizable offences including cases of sexual assault.
Further, section 164-A of CrPC provides that in rape/sexual assault investigation, the victim shall be examined by a registered medical practitioner under consent within 24 hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the commission of such offence.
“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 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.”