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Law Commission apprehensive on Supreme Court’s suggestions on Rape Trials

Suchithra Menon
16 April 2014 10:49 AM GMT
Law Commission apprehensive on Supreme Court’s suggestions on Rape Trials
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The law Commission of India filed a report before the Supreme Court expressing its dissent to the suggestions made by the Supreme Court relating to the Rape Trials. TOI reports. Last year a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Gyan Sudha Misra had taken suo motu cognizance of the inordinate delay in the trial of rape cases. The Supreme Court had observed that setting up of fast-track courts would not achieve the desired result as long as trial procedures were not modified to dispense speedy justice. The bench had asked the government why the Criminal Procedure Code be not drastically amended to allow a magistrate to straight away record statements of all witnesses in sexual assault cases and keep them in sealed cover. This observation is viewed with raised eyebrow by the Law Commission.

As per the report the Commission opined that recording of statement by police opens up various possibilities to obtain information about the accused during investigation. The Police officer records a rape survivor's statement after questioning her for hours to ensure that all details of the incident are on record. A magistrate is not equipped with the abilities of an investigating officer to achieve the same result while recording her statement.  "The amendments sought to be proposed by the Supreme Court may lead to certain difficulties and may not achieve the desired results."

Moreover, the Commission focused on fair trial, a right guaranteed to an accused. According to the Commission, there are four major pitfalls in substituting the rape survivor's statement to police with that recorded by the magistrate:

* The police will not be able to make any investigation with regard to crucial aspects like details of the accused, what forensic evidence to look for as the statement would be kept in sealed cover

* Police will find it difficult to investigate the case without regularly speaking to the rape survivor to elicit the complete version

* Every discovery of new evidence during the investigation would require the police to take the rape survivor to the magistrate for fresh recording of statement, which would actually delay the process

* Police not speaking to the survivor regularly would actually slow down investigations into various possibilities. 

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