SC fast tracks hearing on women's safety and rape cases

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New Delhi, Jan 4: The Supreme Court would hear today matters related to setting up of fast track courts for speedy trial in rape cases and effective implementation of existing laws for safety of women even as the apex court itself and various state administrations showed urgency in rape and women's issues.

The bench headed by justice Radhakrishnan decided to hear the matter on Friday as it had received a report from the apex court registry that an identical matter relating to the safety of women was already pending. Senior advocate Pramod Swarup and advocate Pareena Swarup said there may be some overlapping issues in the two petitions but the PIL by the former bureaucrat raised other issues including the need for speedy trial for the offences against women.

People Pay Homage

The apex court will also hear another PIL related to the issue which was filed by an advocate and social activist Omika Dubey in which directions have been sought for appointment of additional judges to adjudicate the matters of crime against women and for providing compulsory compensation to the rape victims.

The PIL filed through advocate Ravi Prakash Gupta also sought an order to restrain print and electronic media from publishing and telecasting obscene pictures of women.

Mindset needs to change, says SC  

The SC said yesterday that there has been a phenomenal rise in the crime against women in society and it can be curbed only when the authorities are sensitised towards women's problems.

The apex court strongly disapproved of a trial court order which had held that wife beating is a normal facet of married life and termed the judgement as "perverse". "They show a mindset which needs change. There is a phenomenal rise in crime against women and protection granted to women by the Constitution and other laws can be meaningful only if those who are entrusted with the job of doing justice are sensitised towards women's problems," a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam said while referring to sessions court's judgement.

"We are wary of passing comments against the subordinate courts because such comments tend to demoralise them. But, in this case, we will be failing in our duty if we ignore the insensitivity shown by learned sessions judge to a serious crime committed against a hapless woman," the bench said.

SC also takes up pending case

Keeping with the national sentiment on speedy proceedings in rape cases, the SC on Thursday decided to hear urgently an appeal against the acquittal of accused in the 17-year-old Suryanelli rape case in which a woman from Kerala was allegedly raped by 42 men for 40 days.

With the appeal pending at the apex court itself for eight years, a bench headed by Chief Justice Kabir assured that hearings would begin on it within three weeks. The bench gave the assurance after it was brought to its notice during mentioning period that the appeal against the acquittal of accused in the case is pending in the apex court for the last eight years.

The Suryanelli rape case involves gangrape of a 16-year-old girl continuously for 40 days by 42 men in 1996. The girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala was abducted in Jan 1996 and was transported from place to place across Kerala. On Sept 6, 2000, the special court had sentenced 35 persons to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms.

The Kerala High Court, however, acquitted all 35 convicts earlier and found only one of them guilty of crimes related to the sex trade and sentenced him to five years jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000. Later, her family and the state moved the Supreme Court in 2005 against the high court's verdict.

Top brass meeting today

The Centre is likely to chalk out a strategy to deal with crime against women and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes at a high-level meeting here today.

The conference of Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of all states and Union Territories has been convened in the wake of the gruesome gangrape of a girl in Delhi and subsequent public protests across the country.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja, Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath besides top senior officials of the central government will take part in the day-long meeting. Issues relating to safety and security of women and challenges and strategies to eliminate violence against them, atrocities against SCs and STs besides an analysis of recent statistics of various crimes against women will be discussed threadbare during the meeting, officials said.

Female foeticide, so-called honour killings, acid attacks on women and victim compensation schemes and institutional mechanisms and capacity-building will also figure during the discussions, they said. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) to deal with crime against women, proposed amendments in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012 are likely to come up.

Rajasthan town shows way in speedy trial

Amid demands for speedy trial in cases of sexual offence, the Barmer police in Rajasthan have set an example by submitting charge-sheet in a rape case within eight days of the crime.

The charge-sheet in the rape, which took place on Dec 27, was submitted in a local court yesterday. "As the victim is a minor, we have invoked Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, besides Sections 366 A, 365, 376 (G) of IPC," said barmer SP Rahul Barhat. The 13-year old girl was gang-raped by three men in Rawatsar area when she was returning home with her aunt. All the three accused in the case, identified as Manohar, Nareandra and Shera Ram, have already been arrested.

Administration acts in harassment cases

While an army jawan was booked on the alleged charges of sexually harassing a married woman at Gangaicha Ahir village in Rewari district of Haryana, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in New Delhi suspended a constable for his alleged involvement in a molestation case.

The jawan, identified as Sunil Kumar of Mohammadpur village, had on Wednesday forcibly entered the house of Ravinder Yadav in the village and sexually harassed his wife while he had gone outside for some work. However, hearing her cries for help, the woman's in-laws came to her rescue immediately following which the army jawan fled from the spot. The accused also threatened them of dire consequences if they revealed the incident to anyone, police said. A case has been registered against the absconding accused.

In DRI incident, five persons, including DRI constable Basant Kumar, were arrested for allegedly molesting a woman and trying to forcibly take her in their car on Sunday. DRI said in a release that on the basis of news reports claiming involvement of the constable in the molestation of the woman, inquiries were initiated with the police authorities who have confirmed the arrest.

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