Guidelines to protect victims of sexual attacks need effective implementation: Kerala HC to state, police

  • | Wednesday | 13th October, 2021

Kochi, Oct 13 (PTI) Distressed by instances of victims of sexual attacks knocking on the doors of the courts, with some regularity, for protection against intimidation by the accused and their associates, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday said there was a need for effective implementation of victim protection guidelines which was not happening presently. The high court said both the Kerala government and the State Police Chief have to answer how the mandate of protection of victims of sexual attacks can be effectively implemented in the state as this was a matter "that cuts at the root of the societal response to such grievous attacks and offences". "Cases of sexual attack victims and rape survivors being intimidated by the accused persons and their associates have been coming to this court with some regularity." ".. it causes a lot of distress to this court because there are specific guidelines, circulars and orders issued by the various competent authorities with respect to protection of victims of sexual attacks, including rape; but many times, I notice that these are not being effectively implemented," Justice Devan Ramachandran said. The observation by the court came a day after it had raised concerns over the increasing number of POCSO cases and lack of any mechanism to protect the children against such offences or threats from the perpetrators. The high court on Tuesday had said it was "high time" there was a victim protection scheme in the state. The observation had come while hearing a minor rape victim"s plea for police protection against alleged intimidation and threats from the accused and his family to dissuade her from preferring an appeal against his acquittal in the case. On Wednesday, the court"s remarks came while hearing a plea for police protection, where the victim has alleged that she was being harassed by not only the accused, but by certain police officers as well and as a result, she has been forced to go into hiding by residing with a close relative of hers. She has alleged that the police officers in question were acting in collaboration with the accused in the case. Terming the allegations as "grievous", and also considering the previous day"s matter, Justice Ramachandran said he was of the firm view that "stipulations for protection of women, who have faced the agony of sexual harassment and attack, will certainly have to be given a very close look". "Though this court does not know the truth of the allegations yet, they certainly are ones which will have to engage the attention of the highest officer in charge of the police department in the district (of Ernakulam)," the judge said in his order. The court directed the lawyer appearing for the state and the police to obtain instructions on how the victim protection protocols would be "efficiently and imperatively" implemented, especially with reference to a circular by the State Police Chief prescribing the manner in which a sexual attack victim or survivor has to be protected. It also directed the Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam, to ensure the petitioner and her minor child"s lives were effectively and adequately protected without involving the officers against whom the allegations have been made. The court said personnel from another police station be deployed, preferably a woman in plainclothes, who shall deal with the victim with empathy. The protection shall be offered discreetly, the court directed and listed the matter for hearing on November 26. PTI HMP BN BN

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