Sexual Trials offences to be completed within two months
New Delhi: Trials in all sexual offences including rape will now be completed within two months as far as possible and all victims will have the right to appeal against a court order, under new amendments to CrPC. The amendments which came into effect on Thursday would come as a big relief to complainants as till now only the state could file an appeal against an order. A statement on key amendments released by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said that victims will now be allowed to engage an advocate to assist the prosecution. It also prescribes that the statement of a victim of rape shall be recorded at her residence and as far as practicable, by a woman police officer in the presence of the victim's parents or guardian, or a social worker. The amendments also enable recording of statements or confessions by audio-video electronic means. It also stipulates that the trial of an offence under Sections 376 (rape) to 376D IPC (entire section deals with sexual offences) shall, as far as possible, be completed within two months. The amendment also incorporates a new Section 357A obliging every state government to prepare a scheme for providing funds for compensating the victim of a crime or his dependents besides providing for execution of bond by a person seeking bail pending an appeal.
The CrPC was amended in 2006 but the amended Act has not been brought into force so far. Three provisions relating to the power of a police officer to make an arrest and power of court to refuse or grant adjournments have also been put on hold. These are Sections 5, 6 and 21(b) of the Amendment Act which relate to the power of a police officer to make an arrest and the power of the court to grant or refuse adjournments. Representations were received against these provisions. Hence, they were referred to the Law Commission. The Law Commission held consultations and submitted its report.
On the basis of the report, an Amendment Bill has been approved by the Cabinet. It could not be introduced in the last session of Parliament and is expected to be introduced in the Budget Session.