29 Nov 2021 2:51 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Monday yet again accentuated the insufficiency and lack of implementation of the victim protection system intended for sexual-assault survivors in the State.Justice Devan Ramachandran was adjudicating upon a plea filed by a sexual attack survivor alleging harassment from the accused and two police officers. The issue concerned the Court after numerous cases reached...
The Kerala High Court on Monday yet again accentuated the insufficiency and lack of implementation of the victim protection system intended for sexual-assault survivors in the State.
Justice Devan Ramachandran was adjudicating upon a plea filed by a sexual attack survivor alleging harassment from the accused and two police officers. The issue concerned the Court after numerous cases reached the Bench with survivors seeking police protection.
The report submitted by the Assistant Commissioner of Police revealed that a victim's liaison officer had been appointed as per existing protocols for the survivor.
Yet she had to visit the police station on numerous occasions without the presence of the said officer. She had approached the police to terminate her pregnancy which was an aftermath of the sexual assault she had to endure.
The Court found it rather disappointing that the liaison officer failed to support and guide the survivor when she approached her seeking help. The Judge was in fact shocked to see it mentioned in the report that " surprisingly one day" she went to the police station after a liaison officer had been appointed. for her.
"The presence of the victim liaison officer is conspicuously under a cloud since it is the said officer who should have advised the victim appropriately since she is not a legally trained person as are most of the other citizens of this State."
Accordingly, the police were directed to immediately have the victim's liaison officer meet the petitioner and lead her with her plea under Section 164A (medical examination of the victim of rape) of CrPC.
Advocate Dheeraj Rajan appearing for the petitioner had submitted that the Station House Officer and a civil police officer attached to the Thrikkakkara Police Station were acting in collaboration with the accused in the case of sexual attack against her. Later, she went to the police station seeking permission to medically terminate her pregnancy but was told that it was not within their powers.
There was also indications that the police officers tried to convince her that it was illegal
Government Pleader EC Bineesh submitted that it is indeed not within the police's power to allow or deny the same under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
However, the Court opined that it was the duty of the victim protection liaison to advise her on the legalities involved in the matter and to ensure the protection of her anonymity, by taking her statements at her residence instead of forcing her to go to the police station.
"I make it clear that the un-expendable requirements of anonymity of the petitioner under the salutary Victim Protection Protocols shall be maintained at every stage and that she is not exposed, either to Police Station or to the public, and put to further vexation or distress."
The Single Judge added:
"In the case of a rape survivor, 100% anonymity has to be ensured so she cannot even go to the police station. For the victim protection protocol to be meaningful, and for a girl or a woman to come forward and make a complaint, they should have the minimum guarantee of being told that their dignity will be safe. Here, the case is usually that the victim has to go to the police station and make the complaint, give statements etc. We have to overhaul the victim protection system now."
It was further ordered that if the victim protection protocols are put to effect in this manner, then certainly the victims would not get any benefit apart from there being a paper service.
Before concluding, the Court remarked that the police officers are well aware of the procedures and responsibilities under the victim protection programme and that they were choosing not to give effect to them:
"I can wake up someone who's sleeping but I can't wake one who is pretending to sleep."
The matter will be taken up again on December 10.