Sexual assault: HC asks authorities to give suggestions on SOP in cases of child victims

NEW DELHI, Sep 14: The Delhi High Court today sought suggestions from various authorities, including the Delhi Government and child rights bodies, on preparation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed in cases involving child victims.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula asked the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Delhi Government’s Department of Women and Child Development, Delhi Police and Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to participate in the meeting for drafting the SoP.

The high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) it had initiated on its own after taking cognisance of the case of sexual assault of a minor girl allegedly by suspended Delhi Government officer Premoday Khakha.

During the hearing, additional standing counsel Rupali Bandhopadhya, who was representing the Delhi Police, informed the bench that she has filed a status report in the matter.

However, the court said the report was not on record and asked the counsel to place it on record before October 6, the next date of hearing.

The high court also impleaded DCPCR as a party to the petition and asked it to place on record the steps taken by it in the case.

The bench had on August 28 directed the authorities to ensure the identity of the survivor is not revealed in any manner and that she should get due protection and compensation.

It had asked the Department of Women and Child Development of the Delhi government, police and the Centre to file a report in the matter.

The suspended officer, who allegedly raped the girl several times and impregnated her, was arrested by the police on August 21 and is in judicial custody.   His wife Seema Rani, who is accused of giving the girl medicine to terminate her pregnancy, is also in judicial custody.

Khakha, a family friend, had allegedly raped the minor several times between November 2020 and January 2021. The girl had moved to Khakha’s house after her father’s death.

The couple was arrested after the victim recorded her statement before a magistrate at a hospital.

A case has been registered under provisions of the POCSO Act and Indian Penal Code sections 376(2)(f) (being a relative, guardian or teacher of, or a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman, commits rape on such woman) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman), police said.

IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 313 (causing miscarriage without woman’s consent) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) have also been invoked in the case, police said. (PTI)

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