SC asks law secretaries to respond to proposal for speeding up rape trials

India on 05 September 2013
Location : New Delhi, India | Source : Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked law secretaries of the Centre and states as well as law commissions to respond to radical measures proposed by it to speed up trials in rape cases.

Responding to a notice issued on August 30 to the Centre through the attorney general, additional solicitor general Sidharth Luthra told a bench of Justices Gyan Sudha Misra and Pinaki Ghose that most concerns of the court for speeding up the trial process in sexual assault cases against women had been taken care of by the recent amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code.

But the bench wanted the responses of all law secretaries, Law Commission of India as well as state law commissions to its proposals, including recording of statements by rape survivor and witnesses by a magistrate and keeping them in sealed cover to be opened for scrutiny during the trial.

The bench said speedier trial processes have been incorporated by other jurisdictions and their attempt was to fast-track trials in rape cases. The bench was pained by the rise in sexual assaults against women and the lack of initiative on the Centre's part to expedite trial in such cases.

Justices Misra and Ghose had said on August 30, "We are perturbed and anguished to notice that although there are fast-track courts for disposal of such cases, we do not yet have a fast-track procedure for dealing with cases of rape and gang-rape lodged under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) with the result that such heinous offences are repeated incessantly.

"We deem it just and appropriate to issue notice and call upon the Union of India to file its response as to why it should not take initiative and sincere steps for introducing necessary amendment into the Criminal Procedure Code involving trial for the charge of rape by directing that all witnesses who are examined in relation to the offence and incident of rape cases should be straightway produced before the magistrate for recording their statement to be kept in sealed cover and thereafter, the same be treated as evidence at the stage of trial which may be put to test by subjecting it to cross-examination."

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