Pink Fund to Special Task Force: Why stakeholders in criminal justice system should remain cognizant of Delhi Police Standing Order No. 303 of 2019?

Standing Order No. 303 of 2019 i.e. ‘Guidelines for police response and investigation in cases of sexual offence’

The Standing Orders of the Delhi Police are its internal orders issued by the Commissioner of Police regulating the manner of functioning of the police force and therefore such order which concerns the police response and investigation in cases of sexual offence assumes significance for the public at large, whether affected directly or not,  and indispensably for the stakeholders in the criminal justice system like the Hon’ble Courts, learned Prosecutors, learned Advocates representing victims of crime, complainants, accused and other parties, besides the police officers who themselves discharge their statutory duties in the capacity of investigating officers. The Standing Order under reference, is detailed with the amendments carried out in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 being included along with the relevant judgements passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, however it has been stated in the order at the outset that certain other important directions have been incorporated which are to be followed while responding to and investigating sexual assault cases. Though the objectives of issuance of the standing order are detailed in six (6) points contained therein, but the same gets reasonably amplified in the following points subject to contentions of the author having not been dealt herein, which have been culled out with curated or adopted title, believing their relative importance in being given primacy of knowledge, understanding and ensuring implementation:

Call – Police Control Room

1. When a call or information of rape or sexual assault is received in the Central Police Control Room (CPCR), the Operator handling the call will try to record each and every relevant information being shared by the caller, including name, address, profession of the caller; name, address and age of the victim; exact place of occurrence; name, address and age of accused persons (if known) etc. The operator will immediately bring it to the notice of the ACP/CPCR, besides informing the concerned PCR Van, District Control Room etc., but he or she will not disclose the information to anyone else who is not connected with the matter. In-charge of PCR Van, unless it is operationally expedient to do so in the interest of the victim, should take care to avoid passing on the ‘Halat Report’ on wireless and he may convey this through telephone to the concerned officers or CPCR.

 Response – Local Police

2. SHO and other responsible staff of Delhi Police should immediately respond to a call or complaint involving offences against women or children and treat the entire city as his jurisdiction to begin with. The process of recording a complaint or statement, inspection of spot, getting medical help, identifying the accused and his apprehension (if sufficient evidence) etc. should commence immediately and jurisdiction decided later. All supervisory formations will ensure that constant briefing of police officers is ensured so that a call or complaint is responded to promptly without getting deterred by jurisdictional issue. If a complainant is not duly attended to or prompt police response is not provided on grounds of jurisdiction, strict disciplinary action should be taken.

 Response – Staff at Public Facilitation Desk

3. The staff deployed at the Public Facilitation Desk shall handle the complainant/victim with due empathy and care so as to make her feel comfortable before she is further attended to.

Action – Information of sexual assault received through telephone

4. It should be kept in mind that in case a call or information of sexual assault is received through telephone, which is subsequently found ‘switched-off’, and the victim or the place of occurrence are also not traceable, the call should not be ‘filed’ in a routine manner unless proper verification from the caller or owner of the phone is done.

Place of Stay – Victim

5. The victim shall not be kept in the police station overnight on any pretext whatsoever including medical examination, and in case the victim has no place of stay or family, she should be sent to safe places like Nari Niketan, Short Observation Home etc.

Recording of Statement – Victim

6. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi pronounced the following directions in Ref. No. 02/16 – “Court on its own motion Vs State”:-

(i) A statement under the POCSO Act can be made only to a police officer or a magistrate, and;

(ii) Provisions of the POCSO Act or the J.J. Act do not contemplate any report to be made by a counselor. It further makes it explicitly clear that counseling report/ notes of the counselor (as well as any person or expert recognized under the POCSO Act and Rules of 2012 and JJ Act) are confidential in nature and the same cannot be made a part of the charge sheet or otherwise on the trial court record. As such, the IO/SHO while preparing the charge-sheet/Final Report of Rape/POCSO Act cases shall ensure that neither the Counselor is cited as PW nor the Counseling Report is included in the list of documents to be forwarded to the Court.

FIR- Delay in Registration

7. If there is delay in registration of FIR, due to victim reporting the matter late under certain circumstances, the same should amply be explained in the endorsement of the IO and explained during the subsequent investigation of the case.

Sensitive FIR – Uploading on Website

8. The FIRs relating to sexual offences shall not be uploaded on the official website of the Delhi Police as is being done in other FIRs, categorized as “Sensitive”.

FIR – Copy to DSLSA within 24 Hours

9. In view of the order dated 12.09.2017 of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in CWP No. 8183/2017 titled ‘Court on its Own Motion Vs. Govt. of NT of Delhi & Ors.’, a copy of FIR in all cases of ‘sexual violence’ shall be sent to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) on their dedicated e-mail [email protected] immediately after registration of such FIR and in no case later than 24 hours of registration. 

Identity of Child victim – Restrictions

10. In terms of the directions of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, issued in Criminal Reference No. 2/2016 in the matter of Court on its Own Motion Vs. State, in case the identity is necessary to be revealed for the benefit of a child, then name can only be given in double sealed envelope with written warning on inner envelope i.e. the contents of this letter /report are secret in nature and should not be divulged to anyone under any circumstances and contravention of the same is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or both u/s 74 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015.

 Action – Scene of Crime

11. Site plan of the scene of crime and route taken by the accused, if victim has been taken from one spot to another, be got prepared intelligently by the IO. Services of Draughtsman of Delhi Police may also be utilized in preparation of such site plans.

 Medical Examination – Child Victim

12. The IO shall ensure that the child victim is medically examined at the earliest preferably within twenty-four hours (in accordance with Section 164-A Cr.P.C.) at the nearest government hospital or hospital recognized by the government.

Medical Examination – Girl Child victim

13. In case of a girl child victim, the medical examination shall be conducted preferably by a female doctor.

Consent of parents for medical examination – Victim below 12 years of age

14. Cases in which the victim is below 12 years of age, the consent of parents for medical examination or otherwise shall also be got recorded in the MLC under their signatures or thumb impressions and the same be got countersigned and stamped by the examining expert or the Gynaecologist. In case the victim is over 12 years of age and refuses for medical examination, the same be got recorded in the MLC from the doctor and efforts shall also be made to get a signature or thumb impression of the victim as well as of the person bringing the victim to the hospital.

Recording of Statement – Prosecutrix

15. It has also been mandated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case titled “Attorney General Vs Shiv Kumar Yadav” Manu/SC/ 0997/2015 and “State of Karnataka Vs. Shivanna” 2014(8) SCC816 that the statement of the prosecutrix in case of rape and sexual assault must be recorded U/s 164 Cr.P.C. within the 24 hours of the registration of FIR and at that time, medical report of the prosecutrix must be before the Ld. Magistrate recording statement of victim U/ s 164 Cr.P.C.

Section 26(4) – POCSO Act

16. Wherever possible, the IO shall ensure that the statement of the victim is also video recorded as per Section 26 (4) of POCSO Act.

Statement of Information – No Disclosure

17. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP(Crl.) No. .5073/2011 titled ‘State of Karnataka by Nonavinakere Police Vs. Shivnna . @ Tarkari Shivanna’ vide its order dated 25.4.2014 held that “the Investigating Officer shall not disclose the contents of the statement of the victim under section 164-Cr.P.C. until a charge sheet is filed to anybody other than those connected with the investigation of the case either in the capacity of supervisory officer or the Prosecutor.”

Duty – Investigation Officer

18. The Investigation Officer shall as far as possible take the victim to the nearest lady Metropolitan /preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate. If there is any delay exceeding 24 hours in taking the victim to Magistrate, the Investigation Officer must record the reasons for the same in the case diary and hand over a copy of the same to the magistrate.

Investigation – Cases of Sexual Assault

19. The case file shall invariably be kept in the specially designed File Cover meant for investigation of rape cases and provided to all police stations in abundance. IO should also fill-up the check list on the file cover so that her investigation and case file both are complete and up-to-date. The check-list will also act as a guide to various steps of investigation specially required for investigation into rape cases. Since ‘Death Penalty’ has been provided in a rape case vide sections 376AB and 376DB of the IPC, the investigation into a rape case now assumes greater significance, and should be conducted with meticulous care and diligence. Rape cases are treated as ‘Special Report Cases’ in terms of SO No. 88/2010. Cases registered under POCSO Act shall also be treated as such. Initial Special Report (ISR) should be issued within 24 hours of the registration of the case by the ACP without fail and it must reach the DCP office the same evening. Thereafter, Continued Special Reports (CSRs) shall be issued every fortnight and directions issued by the supervisory officers on ISR and CSRs must be complied with meticulously by IO and SHO.

Collection of Evidence – Videography

20. Due care be ensured while preparing various Memos (Furd) as there may be cases when the victim is minor or under trauma. Efforts be made to associate independent witnesses and videography be done of such places and articles.

Collection of Evidence – DNA Fingerprinting

21. As per requirement, DNA fingerprinting of biological exhibits should also be got done.

Specification – Police Record and Charge Sheets

22. Police records and charge-sheet must specify the continuity and sanctity of custody of the exhibits.

Drafting – FSL Form

23. Queries in the FSL Form be drafted with due diligence so that the exhibits could be linked with the victim and the accused without any plausible doubt.

Victim – Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe

24. In case during investigation of the case, it comes to the knowledge of the IO that the victim is a member of SC or ST, appropriate section(s) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (POA)Act, 1989 should be invoked and investigation of such cases be transferred to an officer of the rank of ACP for further investigation. Needless to mention here that the authority issuing such certificate should be cited as PW with relevant record.

Preservation – Mobile Phone or Other Electronic Evidences

25. In cases where phones or any other electronic device is allegedly used for taking pictures or making video etc., IO should seize the same with complete details of phones, hard discs, operating systems etc. as per the instructions contained in SO No. 448/2017.

CCTV footage – Mention in Seizure Memo for Evidence

26. If CCTV footage is taken on record for evidence purpose, the hard disc, its compatibility etc., should be mentioned in the Seizure Memo so that the same can be procured and played during trial. The CCTV footage is to be procured as per the instructions contained in SO No. 442/2016.

Cellular Companies – Witnesses

27. Special care must be taken in respect of naming the Cellular Companies as the witnesses. Each and every document provided by them i.e., Consumer Application Form (CAF), ID proof of customer, CDRs, Certificate u/s 65 B Indian Evidence Act is to be proved by the Nodal Officer of the service provider and they must be mentioned in the list of witnesses. The CDR is to be collected as per the instructions contained in SO No.451/2017.

Arrest and Interrogation – Accused

28. If the accused is unidentified, sincere efforts are required to be made for identification and arrest of the accused person(s). This task should not be left to the woman IO alone and SHO should form special team(s) for identification and apprehension of the accused person(s). ACP and DCP shall monitor this at their personal level. 

Information and Attendance of Victim – Hearings in Hon’ble Court

29. All the Investigating Officers shall inform the complainant or victim of sexual offences through any possible means of communication regarding the listing of bail application in order to facilitate them to put their version before the court, if they so desire. Each and every bail matter should be attended by the IO and/or Inspector (Investigation) with a detailed brief for the Court and the Public Prosecutor. Copy of bail application, replies thereto and order of the Court should be part of the Police File. The Investigating Officer should also keep in mind the mandate of Section 40 of the POCSO Act as well as Rule 4 of POCSO Rules for necessary implementation.

 Pink Fund – DCP Office

30. When a child victim comes in contact with the Police Officer, generally he/ she may not feel comfortable as the Police Officer is not known to him/her. In order to provide a child-friendly environment as also to make the child victim feel at home, Investigating Officer may have to offer some food item or toy etc. In some instances, the clothes/undergarment of the child victims may have to be seized for some crucial evidences, and some alternative clothes/undergarment will have to be procured for the victim. For this purpose, a Fund will be maintained in the DCP office for disbursal to the Investigating officer through concerned ACP. The ACP concerned shall maintain a complete record of fund to be released including FIR details, amount, purpose, date of release and acknowledgement. A utilisation certificate will also be provided by IO duly verified by SHO. The Fund will be maintained/ designated as the Pink Fund and shall be recouped regularly post utilisation from the Head, ‘Imprest Money’, allocated to the districts.

Preparation & Submission – Charge Sheet

31. The charge sheets should not be a mere reproduction of the complaint or contents of FIR, in-stead, it has to be a bundle of evidences collected right from the information to the police till preparation of charge-sheet, each and every allegations be commented upon and supporting evidences be mentioned in the charge sheet.

 Pseudonyms – 161 Cr.P.C.

32. It should be ensured that pseudonyms are used in place of the name of the victim while recording the statement u/s 161 Cr.P.C. so as to protect the identity of the victim. This provision wild be also followed if the person alleged against is a juvenile (JCL). 

Special Provisions – Filing Charge Sheet

33. Expeditious completion of investigation in rape and sexual offence cases is of paramount importance. Investigation in such cases shall be closely monitored by the concerned DCP. The Investigation of offences under sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or section 376E of the IPC and sexual assault cases under POCSO Act shall be completed within 60 days from the date of filing of FIR in view of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.

 Draft – Charge Sheet

34. In view of the above provisions, a draft charge-sheet in the sexual assault cases under sections 376, 376A, 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or section 376E of the IPC and sexual assault cases under POCSO Act be prepared within 45 days without fail. Inspector (Investigation), SHO and ACP shall personally monitor such cases and ensure that the draft charge sheet is prepared and put up to them by the IO within the stipulated period. Needless to mention that the investigation of these cases should be supervised by the SHO / ACP right from its inception very closely and the I.O. should be appropriately guided. They shall also ensure that the IO put up the draft charge sheet to the Public Prosecutor concerned on the next working day and IO doesn’t keep the charge sheet with herself. In sensational or gruesome rape and sexual assault cases, Special Public Prosecutor may be got appointed for proper pairvi in camera trial u/s 327(2) Cr.P.C should be requested for.

Submission – Final Report or Charge Sheet

35. Needless to say, the cases falling under the above category shall be investigated on a regular basis by the IO and Inspector (Investigation), and closely monitored by the SHO, ACP, Addl. DCP-I and the DCP.

Requirements – Charge sheet

36. The charge sheet should be filed within minimum required time after arresting the accused. As far as possible, the DCP should also examine the charge sheet, depending upon the nature of the case, before it is put in court. In case the charge sheet is not filed within 30 days, the case should be brought to the notice of the concerned Joint Commissioner of Police.

Punishment – 10 years or more

37. In all cases where punishment provided is 10 years or more, an e-Challan (charge sheet) shall be prepared and filed in the Court without delay. A copy of the Compact Disc (CD) so prepared shall also be kept in the VRK.

Pairvi – During Trail

38. Successful trial of cases always depends upon hard work done during investigation and trial by way of regular attendance in trial Courts by the IO and the Pairvi Officer. Briefing of witness a day prior to hearing, creating a sense of confidence in the mind of victim and moral support always help in ensuring successful conviction.

Support person- Non-Governmental Organizations

39. Some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) also play very- significant role in the sexual assault cases as far as counselling and rehabilitation are concerned. Their involvement in such matters is mandatory. The list of such NGOs who have been affiliated to the Rape Crisis Cell is available of the website of the DCW.

Assistance – Delhi State Legal Services Authority

40. The IO and SHO concerned shall assist the D.L.S.A. while processing the rehabilitation/ compensation process by providing all requisite information and maintaining constant liaison. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Criminal Appeal No. 5/2000, titled Khem Chand Vs State had issued guidelines relating to the role of DLSA. A brief of the same is as under:- “The concerned SHO shall inform the Delhi Legal Services Authority immediately about commission of the offence of rape. The D.L.S.A. shall depute a social worker/Para legal worker to establish contact, latest by a week of the commission of the offence, with the victim and her family. The Social worker / Para legal worker shall work towards gaining the confidence of the victim and provide necessary moral and legal support.’ He/ she shall also counsel and advise the victim, as may be required, to come to terms with the ordeal and deal with it. The social/Para legal worker shall operate under the overall guidance and supervision of the child counselor/psychologist nominated by the D.L.S.A. The child Counselor/psychologist shall personally step in and give assistance to the social/Para legal worker or herself handle the case, wherever required, to ensure adjustment and rehabilitation of the victim. The child Counselor / psychologist will also ensure that the education of the victim is not disputed and normal life is restored as soon as possible. A report would be submitted to the D.L.S.A. in this regard by the Child Counsellor/Psychologist. Under the Delhi Protection of Witness Scheme, 2015, the DSLSA is the Competent Authority to ensure protection of victim, her family members and the prosecution witnesses. Any order or direction to police received from the DSLSA in this regard shall be complied with meticulously.”

Legal Assistance – Crime against Women

41. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Criminal Appeal No. 1156/2010, titled Dilip V/ s State of Madhya Pradesh in the case titled Delhi Domestic Working Forum v/ s Union of India and other (1995) issued the following directions with regard to cases of crime against women, particularly cases of rape. A gist of the same is enumerated below:-

(i)The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with the legal representation. It is important to have someone who is well acquainted with the criminal justice system. The role of the victim’s advocate would not only be to explain to the victim the nature of the proceedings, to prepare her for the case and to assist her in the police station and in court but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies, for example, counseling and medical assistance. It is important to secure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who looked after the complaint’s interest in the police station represents her until the end of the case.

(ii)Legal assistance would have to be provided at the police station since the victim of sexual assault might very well be in a distressed state upon arrival at the police station. The guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage whilst she was being questioned, would be of great assistance to her.

(iii)The police should. be under obligation to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions are asked to her and that the police report should state that the victim was so informed.

(iv)A list of advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept ready at the police station for victims who did not have 8. lawyer or whose own lawyer was unavailable.

(v)The advocate would have to be appointed by the court, upon application by the police at the earliest convenient moment, but in order to ensure that victims were questioned without any delay, advocates would be authorized to act at the police station before leave of the court was sought or obtained.

(vi) In all rape trials, anonymity of the victim would be maintained, as far as necessary.

Training – Police Officers

42. The Special Commissioner of Police (Training) shall organize seminars and workshops for police personnel for sensitization in cases of rape and sexual offences so that they are receptive to the difficulties, suffering, pain and trauma of the victim and her family.

Collection of Necessary Documents of Child – When offence is under POCSO

43. When an offence under POCSO Act is committed by a child, age determination of the accused (JCL) becomes a crucial factor. The IO should collect the Birth Certificate issued by the local Authority and in the absence of the same, the Birth Certificate should be collected from the School or Examination Board alongwith other documents available with the school at the time of registration/ pasting file etc. and in absence of all the above, the Ossification Test from Govt. Hospital should be the last resort. However, before opting for this, all other possible steps to verify the age should be exhausted and if it is necessity, detailed report covering all efforts of police should find mention in the request for ordering Ossification Test moved before the Court.

(SPUWAG)Coordination & Supervision

44. Joint Commissioner of Police (SPUWAG) will coordinate and review the functioning of Crisis Intervention Centers in all Districts of Delhi Police. He will also act as the Nodal Officer for the Delhi Police for the Delhi Commission for Women, the National Commission for Women, the Central Social Welfare Board, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the concerned Government Departments and other outside agencies.

Strict Compliance – Guidelines and Directions

45. Inspector (Investigation) and SHO should ensure strict compliance of the guidelines and directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and Hon’ble High Court of Delhi. This must be monitored by the ACsP during their visit to the police stations. The DCsP must also ensure strict compliance. Special CsP (Law &Order) and Joint CsP (Ranges) also need to periodically check up the quality of investigation in rape cases and whether the timelines of investigation and other important guidelines of Hon’ble Courts are being followed or otherwise.

The author duly expects that the Hon’ble Courts dealing with such matters, to make an endeavour to peruse the entire Standing Order and otherwise the above points (especially those made bold and underlined in the content under each point title) so as to come up as a real guardian for the victims of crime in the court room, questioning the practices of the police force in action on the field.

*****

[The author is an advocate at High Court of Delhi and District Courts-Delhi NCR. He can be reached at [email protected] for any questions or feedback concerning the write-up. The views expressed herein are personal in nature which do not constitute legal advice as such and is not intended to be understood as solicitation of work.]

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