SHC orders simplifying SOPs for investigating rape, assault cases

December 03, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the prosecution and the police department to simplify the standard operating procedures for dealing with rape and assault cases so that they could be...

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The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday directed the prosecution and the police department to simplify the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for dealing with rape and assault cases so that they could be circulated to all the police stations and investigating officers of the province.

The order was issued during the hearing of a petition filed by Kainat Soomro and others seeking the reforming of the investigation process of rape and assault cases.

In the previous hearing, the court had directed the provincial law officer to place the proposed changes in the SOPs before the DIG investigation and then submit the final document in court.

The SHC was informed that the petitioners and the law officer had read the draft of the SOPs, and after making some changes, the final document was submitted in court.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar said that after the perusal of the detailed document, it was found that some of the mentioned aspects were beyond the scope of the SOPs.

The court directed the prosecution and the police department to go through the SOPs and simplify them so that they could be circulated to all the police stations and investigating officers of the province in English, Urdu and Sindhi.

The bench said that copies of the SOPs should be sent to the advocate general and the prosecutor general for their input so that they could be finalised on the next date of hearing.

The bench also issued a notice to the additional secretary of the home department to appear before the SHC on December 17 and apprise it about the government’s efforts for implementing the court’s directives.

According to the petitioners, the Supreme Court had directed the provincial government and other authorities to reform the investigation process of rape cases, but the orders of the top court were not being

complied with.

They said that rape survivors were unable to get justice due to the faulty process of investigation. They asked the court to order the respondents to take immediate steps to improve the investigation system.

A contempt application had been filed against the non-compliance with the court’s directives, following which the court ordered the home department, district & sessions courts and anti-terrorism courts to ensure arrangements for DNA tests, the recording of victims’ statements through teleconference and in-camera trial proceedings in rape and assault cases.

The applicants’ counsel said that on January 31 last year the high court had directed Sindh’s police chief and prosecutor general to ensure proper arrangements for conducting DNA tests and in-camera trials in rape and related cases.

He said the alleged contemnors were deliberately violating the court’s directives, adding that the preservation and testing of DNA evidence was sporadic, unregulated and delayed, while the facilities available for DNA tests continued to be severely limited and dysfunctional.

Citing the example of the Jamna rape case in Sujawal, the counsel said the survivor continued to await her DNA test result despite the passage of four months.

Besides, he added, there had been no progress towards conducting rape trials in camera or after court hours, and even child survivors continued to be forced to face their alleged perpetrators in open courtrooms and had to repeatedly suffer until the evidences were recorded.

He said that the victims and survivors of rape and assault cases continued to suffer through prejudiced investigations and trials and denial of justice, as the orders for making those trials effective and sensitised to the nature of the offence remained unheeded.

The counsel pointed out that so many DNA test reports were awaited due to non-payment of bills of the laboratories concerned. The court was requested to take action against the alleged contemnors for violating the court’s directives.



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