Mandatory, time-bound action in crimes against women: MHA's new advisory


It has further warned that any failure on the part of the police to adhere to the mandatory requirements in crime against women will be inquired and necessary action will be taken immediately against the concerned officers responsible for the lapses.

New Delhi: Taking cognisance of recent crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras and other states, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories (UTs) directing them for "mandatory" and "time-bound" police action in such cases with compulsory registration of First Information Report (FIR).

It has further warned that any failure on the part of the police to adhere to the mandatory requirements in crime against women will be inquired and necessary action will be taken immediately against the concerned officers responsible for the lapses.

The advisory says, "It is requested that states and UTs may suitably issue instructions to all concerned to ensure strict compliance with the provisions in the law. 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."

The states and the UTs have also been requested to monitor the cases on the Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) to ensure that suitable follow up action is taken on the chargesheet of the guilty in a timely manner as required in the law.

Compulsory registration of FIR in case of cognisable offence under subsection (1) of section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) was advised to the states and the UTs. The law also enables the police to register 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, says the advisory.

"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 cognisable offences punishable under section 326A, Section 326B, Section 354, Section 354B, Section 370, Section 370A, Section 376, Section 376A, Section 376AB, Section 376B, Section 376C, Section 376D, Section 376DA, Section 376DB, Section 376E or Section 509 in IPC." Besides, the advisory said Section 173 of CrPC provides for completion of police investigation in relation to rape in two months.

"In order to facilitate the state police to monitor compliance, in this regard MHA has provided an online portal called Investigation Tracking ITSSO for monitoring the same. This is available exclusively to law enforcement officers. Section 164-A of CrPC provides that in rape or 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," it said.

"In order to facilitate the State Police, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has issued Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (SAEC) kits to every state and UT. It is necessary to use these SAEC kits in every case of sexual assault reported."

The ministry issued the advisory on Friday -- days after a 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gangraped by four men in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras leading to her death. As similar crimes were reported in Jharkhand and Rajasthan and other states leading to widespread protests and political outcry, the ministry took the step to issue the fresh advisory.

In the advisory, it referred to its May 16, 2019 advisory on a "failure to record information under sub-section (1) of Section 154 of CrPC punishable under 166A of the Indian Penal Code". The MHA took reference of its another advisory dated December 5, 2019 regarding timely and proactive action by the police in cases of crimes against women.

The ministry also mentioned Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the investigation and prosecution of rape against women issued by the BPR&D, and added points regarding distribution of the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kits to states and UTs by BPR&D as described in MHA's letter dated October 5 this year.

IANS

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