HC Directs Registrar to File Report on Number of Sexual Offence Cases Heard Without Victim's Say

New Delhi, May 22 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday directed the Registrar General to file an urgent report on the number of sexual offences cases dealt with by the trial courts where bail pleas were heard without hearing the complainant.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, said a detailed report be filed after collecting data from the district judges of Delhi.

The high court has said that victims of sexual offences have an obligatory say in the hearing of bail pleas of accused and ordered re-circulation of practice directions on it.

The high court was informed that trial courts are violating the directions earlier issued by the high court by passing bail orders without adhering to mandatory requirement of issuance of notice to the complainant or authorised person on the bail plea of accused of sexual offences.

“It is deemed appropriate that an urgent report be called from the Registrar General, as to the number of such matters which have been dealt with by the criminal/POCSO courts without notice to the complainant and the number of matters in which the complainant was not present or not heard before disposal of bail applications.

“A detailed report be filed with this court after collecting the data from the various District Judges of all the District Courts in Delhi. The Practice Directions ought to be completely adhered to, as they are meant to ensure that the complainants'/victims' rights are adequately safeguarded,” the judge said.

The high court was hearing a plea by the mother of a minor rape victim challenging the interim bail granted to the accused by a trial court without giving them a hearing or notice.

Advocate Tara Narula, representing the victim, said the trial court's order granting interim bail to the accused on May 5 was passed in a routine manner and was not only bad in law but it also suffered from procedural lapse on the part of the sessions court.

She said the order was passed without issuance of notice to the complainant of FIR and denied the opportunity of hearing. 

The counsel said there are more than 80 cases which have been heard in this manner by the trial courts.

The high court was informed by the counsel for the accused that his interim bail should not be cancelled as his wife is unwell.

It said that his wife's medical report be placed before it within a week and listed the matter for June 4.

The victim's counsel submitted that with effect from April 21, 2018 there was an amendment in the law by which it has been mandated that the presence of the informant or any person authorised, shall be obligatory at the time of hearing of the application for bail to the person, accused of sexual offences.

Earlier, the high court had said, “Since it is submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that number of courts are not following the above directions, let the Registrar General of this court once again circulate the Practice Directions” of September 24, 2019 and high court's orders of November 25, 2019 and January 27 this year to all the District and Session Judges in Delhi.

The District and Sessions Judges will bring the directions to the notice of the criminal courts dealing with matters of sexual offences under the IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act under their respective jurisdiction, the high court had said.

The high court, in its last year's orders, directed circulating the practice directions on it among the district judges and later, the directions were extended to the cases lodged under the POCSO Act.

Narula submitted that a direction was issued to the District Judges, National Commission for Protection of Children Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Children Rights (SCPCR) to strictly comply with the same.

The high court was informed by the lawyer that the victim and her family live in the vicinity of the accused and enlarging him on interim bail is a threat to their lives.

The high court said the victim's police protection shall continue.

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