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After major misstep in sexual assault case, Maha lists crucial steps for ‘sensitive handling’ of crimes against women, children

🔴 The notification, in particular, refers to a case pertaining to kidnapping and repeated rape of a minor girl, registered in Palghar district last year.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
Updated: January 6, 2022 7:18:53 am
The notification is addressed to all unit commanders of police jurisdictions across Maharashtra and concerned wing of the Women and Child Development Department of the state government. (File/Representative Image)

The Maharashtra state Home Department has issued a notification highlighting crucial steps that are needed for ‘sensitive handling’ of crimes against women and children. The move comes after a recent case in the state, in which the crucial step of producing the victim of a sexual assault before the Women and Child Welfare Committee after the medical examination was inordinately delayed, because of which her pregnancy could not be terminated.

The notification, which lists 10 steps to better prepare the police force for sensitive handling of crimes against women and children, is addressed to all unit commanders of police jurisdictions across Maharashtra and concerned wing of the Women and Child Development Department of the state government.

The notification, in particular, refers to a case pertaining to kidnapping and repeated rape of a minor girl, registered in Palghar district last year. The notification reads, “The medical examination of the girl revealed that she was more than 23 weeks pregnant.

In spite of this, the investigating officer of the case failed to produce the girl before the concerned Women and Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of the examination, as per the laid down procedure under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The girl was produced before the committee 45 days later, when she was 30 weeks pregnant. Because of this delay, her pregnancy could not be terminated. In the writ petition filed in this regard, the Bombay High Court has passed strictures.”

Now, the unit commanders and investigating officers for crime cases against women and children have been issued some key guidelines. Some of the guidelines are:

1. Victims’ statements should be recorded in their mother tongue
2. If the victim is a minor, it should be done in presence of their parents or guardians
3. The medical examination of the victim should be conducted as per the rules under Section 164A of the Code of 4. Criminal Procedure and Section 27 of the POCSO Act
4. The report of the medical examination should be provided to the concerned Women and Child Welfare Committee and concerned Special Court under the POCSO Act, and further necessary steps taken as per their directions
5. Utmost care must be taken to ensure that the identity of the victim is not revealed under any circumstance.

6. Every police station should designate an officer to perform the duties of a Child Welfare Officer The concerned police officials should, at the appropriate juncture, make the victims or their family members aware of the state government’s Manodhairya scheme, launched for rehabilitation and aid of the victims.

7. The police units should put up these cases to District Legal Aid Authorities within the stipulated time to ensure that the victims get aid in time.

8. The notification states that the trainees at the Maharashtra Police Academy and various police training centres in the state should focus on learning legal provisions under the POCSO Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act). For in-service personnel and officers, regular workshops and sensitivity training sessions should be conducted to train them and refresh their training in these legislation. For the conduct of such sessions, help should be sought from the Women and Child Welfare Com-mittee, NGOs, experts etc. The notification also seeks regular reviews at the level of unit commander to ensure all the tenets in the notification are implemented.

An IPS officer who has served as the unit commander of various police jurisdictions in the past, told The Indian Express, “This is not the first time a notification has been issued to highlight key steps towards sensitive handling of crimes against women and children. However, a lot more still needs to be done to make the response better. It is also important that standard operation procedures are reviewed from time to time and these cases are monitored at the unit commanders’ level.”

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