The National Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines for time-bound investigation and in-camera fast track trial, preferably by a lady judge, in all child rape cases to minimise trauma for the victim and secure conviction of the accused.
Laying down detailed procedure for filing the complaint, conducting investigation and recording evidence in a child-friendly atmosphere, the NHRC recommended the recordings be done through video conferencing in a conducive manner to ensure the victim did not face the accused directly.
The guidelines wanted complaints relating to child rape cases be filed by the victim or an eyewitness or anyone, including a representative of non-governmental organisation, who receives information of the offence. They should be recorded promptly and accurately by officers not below the rank of Sub-Inspector in civil dress and preferably a lady officer.
Recording should not be insisted at a police station and can be at the victim's residence. If possible, a psychiatrist's assistance should be taken. The victim and her family's identity should be secret and they must be ensured protection, the Commission said advising IOs and NGOs to exercise caution on the issue.
The IO should ensure medical examination of the victim and the accused preferably within 24 hours and the gynecologist should ensure recording of the incident history.
The Commission said immediately after the case is registered, the investigation team should visit the crime scene to secure evidence. Telltale signs of resistance by the victim or use of force by the accused should be photographed.
The IO should send the clothes of the victim and the accused for forensic examination within 10 days to find out traces of semen. He/she shall obtain report about the matching of blood group and, if possible, DNA profiling. The forensic lab should analyse evidence on priority and send the report within a couple of months.
The investigation shall be taken up on priority and as far as possible be completed within 90 days after the case is registered under periodic supervision of senior officers. It said the magistrate should commit the case to sessions court for trial within 15 days of the chargesheet being filed.
The Commission overruled the Delhi Police Commission's objections, that there should be no guidelines as to who the complainant should be because the Criminal Procedure Code covers this. He had expressed reservations about the role of NGOs. "Experience shows that sometimes NGOs and others tend to exploit a situation and make complaints which may turn out to be incorrect," the Delhi Police chief had said. The NHRC chose to ignore this.
The guidelines approved after exhaustive consultation with the home secretaries and police chiefs is being sent to all states and union territories for action, NHRC sources told HT.