Study recommends speedy trial in rape cases

Legal resource group Partners for Law in Development (PLD) on Friday recommended expediting court proceedings and conducting quality and periodic training of Presiding Officers, Public Prosecutors and legal aid lawyers.

While releasing its study on “Pre-Trial and Trial Stages of Rape”, PLD’s founding member and Executive Director Madhu Mehra pointed to the 2013 amendments which directed that trials be completed within a span of two months.

“The statutory stipulation of concluding trials within a period of two months is neither realistic nor conducive to fair trial rights of the accused,” she said.

“As far as possible, proceedings should be conducted on a day-to-day basis. Courts can consider blocking consecutive dates to complete the deposition of a witness, and then resuming after a few months when the next set of dates are available.”

Senior advocate Rebecca John suggested that the number of public prosecutors in the court be increased. John said that after 2013, things were improving.

However, lawyer John said the defence questions during cross-examination were inevitably hostile, and often sexually suggestive to insinuate consent. She demanded that such questions be banned.

The PLD demanded that questions should be routed through the Presiding Officer to prevent harassment of the victim.

It also suggested that victim’s testimony should be completed at the commencement of the trial, on a day-to-day basis.

The PLD also recommended to establish an independent specialised agency to provide comprehensive support services to the victim.

“It will help the victim to know how to obtain free medical treatment, counselling and guidance on the relevance of medical examination, compensation under the state victim compensation scheme and status of investigation,” the study said.

The study was conducted by Partners for Law in Development with support of the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

PLD is a legal resource group committed to realisation of social justice and equality for women.

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