The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Union of India and State of Maharashtra in a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions for implementation of Guidelines expounded by the Supreme Court and amended substantive and procedural criminal laws between 2013 to 2018 which deal with right to speedy trial in courts all over the country and protection of identity of rape victims/survivors.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice SP Tavade heard the PIL filed by a Mumbai based doctor, Dr.Noel Kuriakose and 28-year-old Pune resident Priyanka Deore, who herself is a victim of sexual offences.
Petitioners alleged that despite several judgments of the Supreme Court as well as High Courts, media houses in the country continue to disclose names or identity of rape victims/survivors.
Advocates Madhavi Tavnandi and Harshad Garud appeared on behalf of the petitioners in the matter. They argued that there was a certain urgency in the matter as various websites had revealed the identity of the rape victims in the 2019 Hyderabad gang rape case as well as the Tamil Nadu gang rape Case.
The PIL states-
"In rape cases, either victim or survivor has to suffer a lot by facing the trial, protecting her identity, protecting her including her family members from any aggression from her Accused, disgraceful treatment to her by society etc. She has to hide herself and restrict her from getting exposed to the public in general by stopping living normal life which adds more complications to her life. This is taking away her right to live normal life due to inordinately delayed rape trial. If the rape trial is decided within time bound period it can allow the victim/survivor to live her previous life before crime committed against her."
Petitioners have contended that despite various amendments in Criminal Law, the State of Maharashtra failed to constitute Special Courts exclusively to finish the rape trials in a time bound period, without allowing unnecessary adjournments.
PIL also refers to the steps taken by Uttar Pradesh Government by introducing 218 fast track Courts in its cabinet decision reported on December 9, 2019, 144 fast track courts to hear rape cases and 74 POCSO courts for matters related to crimes against children.
The petitioners primarily seek directions to either implement the present laws and take steps like the one taken by the UP government as per Section 309 of CrPC to set up fast track courts for speedy disposal of old pending rape cases or to further amend the procedural laws to expedite the trial in these cases.