A single judge bench of Kerala High Court held as follows:
From Para 13,
13. I do not propose to go into the details of this case any further because, through the various interim orders already issued, the petitioner has
obtained relief – including DNA analysis of the foetus she was carrying, under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC). In fact, the learned counsel for the petitioner – Sri.Dheeraj Rajan, affirmed that no specific orders are now required and that a Final Report has also been filed by the Police.
From Para 14, (Invitation for views)
14. However, the trauma, which the petitioner has experienced and which may be forced upon victims in future, makes this Court to think in terms of having a Protocol for the purpose of empowerment of the victim – being gender neutral – to approach the law enforcement agencies and obtain succor and support in the initial stages of extreme fear, terror and despondency faced.
15. With the afore intent, I threw open discussions in this matter to the Bar, calling for suggestions from anyone who is interested in addressing this Court; and am glad that I did so because, I have had the benefit of the views and inputs from very eminent lawyers, both senior and junior.
16. The principles and imperative requirements of ‘Victim Protection Protocols’ are inexorably attracted whenever a sexual assault occurs; and I, therefore, requested the learned counsel appearing for the parties and who are assisting this Court upon the aforementioned invitation, as also the
learned Special Government Pleader – Smt.Ambika Devi, to offer their suggestions.
From Para 32, (Protocols follow)
XXX Vs State of Kerala and Ors on 05 July 2022
Consequently, I order this writ petition, directing that protocols below are scrupulously followed in the case of a complaint regarding sexual attack or child abuse without exception:
a) The Government will, in addition to the steps taken earlier by it, continually publicize the Toll Free Number ‘112’ as an Emergency Support System to be known to every citizen, so that the victim of a child abuse or sexual assault can access it whenever required.
b) Every victim of sexual assault and child abuse must be encouraged to access the afore Toll Free Number or the Police Control Room Number ‘100’; and on such intimation being received, it will be fed into a digital system, to be then brought to the notice of the jurisdictional Police Station, for necessary steps under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. In this regard, I record the undertaking of the State that a system as afore has already been put in place under the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) Project.
c) This Court records the further undertaking of the State that calls made to the aforementioned Toll Free Numbers of ‘112’ and ‘100’ will only be
attended and responded to by well sensitized and trained personnel, who will make sure that the victim is given sufficient support from the inception, until the time she/he requires it thereafter.
d) On intimation of a sexual assault or child abuse being received by the afore Toll Free Numbers, the Police Control Room or the jurisdictional Police Station, will take immediate steps to contact the victim either personally or through phone without, however, summoning him/her to the Police Station.
e) While taking the statement of the victim, mandatory provisions of Section 157(1) of the Cr.P.C., namely, that same be recorded at his/her
residence or in the place of his/her choice and as far as practical, by a Police Officer in the presence of his/her parents/guardian/near relatives or social worker, shall be scrupulously complied with.
f) On the FIR being so registered, the investigating officer will forthwith assign a ‘Victim Liaison Officer’ in terms of the applicable circulars issued by the State Police Chief, who shall then contact the victim immediately so that he/she will feel safe and protected, being sure of such support.
(g) Simultaneous to the registration of the FIR or at the time when the Victim Liaison Officer is so assigned, the investigating Officer will disclose to the victim the numbers of the ‘One Stop Crisis Centre’ and that of the ‘VRC’, so that they can involve themselves and ensure that the victim suffers no further traumatisation and obtains the best psychological support and succor which, indubitably, is the sine qua non for the reparatory process of the victim’s psychological trauma.
(h) The Authorities concerned will ensure that the victim has constant access to the Victim Liaison Officer and to the ‘One Stop Crisis Centre/VRC’, as the case may be; and that this is made available 24 hours a day, at any time the victim requires it during his/her most difficult times.
(i) The ‘One Stop Crisis Centre’/’VRC’ is directed to offer not merely psychological assistance to the victim, but also legal support as may be required and will actively promote his/her return to normal life, through every possible facilitation as may be warranted. This shall continue as long as the victim requires, or until such time as the trial is completed.
(j) It is further ordered that the victim Liaison Officer (VLO), as also the ‘One Stop Crisis Centre’/’VRC’, shall make available every assistance necessary to the victim for the processes under Section 164A of the Cr.PC, and must actively guide and instruct, advising her/him of her/his rights under it, thus being able to exercise it diligently and with confidence.
The afore are, of course, not exhaustive; and I, therefore, leave liberty to any person, including the learned counsel for the parties or the members of the Bar, to seek any clarification from this Court, if so found necessary; in which event, more effective protocols for victim protection can certainly be thought of and incorporated.