The Delhi High Court is set to look into the legal issue arising out of “multiple statements” of a sexual assault victim being recorded by various authorities including NGO counsellors, police and magistrates. The issue has been taken up after a reference was sent by the Juvenile Justice Board- I (JJB 1) Principal Magistrate, Vishal Singh, to the High Court seeking guidance on this issue.
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In his reference, the magistrate pointed out that the judicial file in a particular rape case contained “five versions” of the statement given by the minor victim — from the FIR, statement to the magistrate under Section 164 CrPC, statement recorded by an NGO counsellor and two more statements recorded by the IO of the case. “Multiple versions of the statement can affect the veracity of the prosecution’s case,” says the letter, which has asked the HC to take a decision on the legal issue.
The magistrate also said there is “no law that sanctions or requires” an IO to get the statement recorded by a counselor but it has “become a prevalent practice” of police to get a version of the victim’s statement recorded and file it as part of the chargesheet.
Citing four separate cases, the JJB has asked the court to give an “authoritative pronouncement” on the legality of the statement recorded by a private counselor of an NGO.
The bench has asked police to file a report, including a tabulation of the “last two cases registered in October and November from each district under the POCSO Act, as well as two cases under Section 376 of the IPC, setting out details of the statements being recorded of the victims,” so that the court could consider if multiple statements by “private NGOs” were being submitted in other cases and if the issue was affecting the prosecution case.
The bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra on December 15, appointed senior advocate Dayan Krishnan and Advocate Tridip Pais as amicus curiae in the case.