The HC said its intervention appears necessary to ensure rape victims get legal representation early in the criminal process.
The HC on February 17 was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by the family of an underage girl who had been abducted and sexually exploited. When the girl was rescued, she was found pregnant. After the nod of the survivor and her family, the CH ordered the termination of her pregnancy. When the court inquired about the legal aid given to the survivor, the investigating officer was unaware of such a measure.
The bench of Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Aniruddha Mayee questioned the police chief about the 1995 Supreme Court order, in which each police station was instructed to create a group of lawyers to help survivors of sexual offences.
This arrangement was considered to ensure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who was looking after the survivor’s interests at a police station represents her until the case is concluded.
As the police chief was unaware of the SC’s instructions, the High Court said the Supreme Court’s instructions are “often observed in the offence”.
The court said: “There is no list of constituted lawyers noticed in police stations.”
The court added: “Therefore, we also need to show some leniency in drawing the attention of the Director General of Police for the purpose of issuing the necessary circular/instruction/notification for each police station in the State maintains, for effective implementation of the instructions issued in 1995, without further loss of time.
The HC told the DGP to file an affidavit in six weeks showing how the Supreme Court’s instructions were complied with.