IN THE first detailed advisory of its kind, the Union Home Ministry has laid down guidelines to strengthen investigation and prosecution in cases of sexual assault, including forensic medical examination of victims to help link suspects to the crime.
The move, officials said, follows concerns expressed this week by the Supreme Court over rising incidents of rape in the country. It also comes in the backdrop of cases of sexual abuse being reported from shelter homes in Bihar and UP.
Prepared by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, the 18-page set of guidelines details the different kinds of evidence that has to be collected in sexual assault cases. “Control samples of body, scalp and auxiliary hairs should be taken, ideally by plucking (not by cutting the tips) to obtain hair root that contain DNA,” it states.
DNA profiling of victims, according to forensic experts, will help identify those killed after sexual assault. In cases where a contraceptive is used for sexual assault, it says that “the condom used during assault may be collected and swabbed separately from inner and outer surface”.
“The Government is in the process of compiling a sex offenders registry. Forensic analysis in sexual assault cases will help identify repeat offenders easily,” a top official of the Home Ministry said.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that women were being raped “left, right and centre” in the country. Referring to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the apex court said that a woman is raped every six hours in the country.
According to NCRB data of 2016, 38,947 women were raped in India that year — the maximum numbers of cases are being reported from Madhya Pradesh, followed by Uttar Pradesh.
To address concerns on women and child safety, the government set up a dedicated division at the Home Ministry in May to strengthen investigations in sexual assault cases.
Besides DNA profiling, the guidelines also list storage and preservation of biological specimen, such as clothes, sanitary pad, tampons, oral swab and pubic hair.
The guidelines also caution that any “victim’s (minor or adult) parent/guardian has the right to refuse either medico legal examination or forensic examination or both, but that refusal will not be taken as denial for medical treatment of survivor after sexual violence”.
“The examining registered medical practitioner (RMP) or hospital is required to inform the police about the sexual offence. However, if the survivor doesn’t wish to lodge an FIR or to involve in police investigations, RMP is bound to provide medical treatment to the victim…,” it states.