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NHRC observes several flaws in Chhattisgarh nun rape probe

Raipur (Chhattisgarh): In a major blow to the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh state, the National Human Rights Commission has found several flaws in the investigation of the case related to the rape of a nun in the state capital. The commission directed the state police to formulate a standard operating procedure on rape probe containing recent guidelines of the Supreme Court and amendments in the Cr PC.

The commission also described as “hasty and irresponsible” the statements made by inspector general of police (Raipur range) in the media expressing doubts about the survivor’s narration on the incident. “These statements were totally unwarranted and exposed lack of sensitivity and understanding of rape survivors’ rights,” an NHRC press release said.

Finding that Chhattisgarh government did not take any measures for relief and rehabilitation of the survivor, NHRC has directed the state police and chief secretary to take action on the specific points as recommended and submit the action taken report within six weeks.

NHRC directions came following an inquiry report of its investigation team, which found that though the local police registered an FIR in the matter but failed to get the statement of the victim recorded before the judicial magistrate, as per the mandate of Section 164 [5(a)] of the CrPC. It also pointed out that proper penal sections based on the allegations, mentioned by the complainant in her complaint to the police, were not invoked while registering the case by police.

“Further, the local police, in absence of a protocol or a procedure, did not take any measures to secure the scene of crime nor it took blood, urine or other body fluid samples to find out the nature and composition of pills alleged to have been popped up in the mouth of the victim by her assailants,” the commission observed adding that there was also an oversight at the time of carrying out seizure of personal clothing of the victim. She was not provided any legal aid or psychological counselling in accordance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court.

The commission has asked the state chief secretary to initiate immediate steps to sensitize and make aware the district administration about the 'Victim Compensation Scheme' so that scheme is properly implemented at ground level, which is necessary in view of the legal mandate under Section 357A of CrPC, Supreme Court Guidelines and notification issued under "Victim Compensation Scheme".

Besides, the commission also asked to review the relevancy and justification of Chhattisgarh Police Regulation mandating the prior permission of executive magistrate for conducting medical examination of rape victim. Moreover, there is no such legal requirement of obtaining prior permission of SDM/executive magistrate under section 164A of CrPC, the commission noted.

NHRC has also directed the state police to frame a media policy and sensitize police officers about media handling and making statement before the press and to initiate measures to collaborate with some agencies/ institutions/ organizations to provide psychological counselling to the victims of sexual assault in accordance with the supreme court guidelines so as to facilitate the survivor could overcome the mental trauma.

Besides, the police have also been asked to collaborate with State Women commission and District Legal Service Authority to provide legal aid/counselling to the rape victims and to formulate a standard operating procedure on protection of scene of crime.

Moreover, the NHRC also directed the Raipur district superintendent of police to get the statement of survivor recorded before the judicial magistrate under section 164 CrPC at the earliest, amend and apply proper penal Sections of IPC in the FIR and make more sincere and committed efforts to apprehend the culprits at the earliest.

NHRC stressed the need to sensitize the staff about rights of the rape victim and not to take those measures that may amount undue harassment or cause mental distress considering the emotional state of victims.

Police had maintained before the commission that a case registered against the two accused on June 20 and the survivor was not troubled in any manner.