Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Women & Children: Calcutta HC Lays Down Guidelines For Investigation And Prosecution
State of West Bengal vs Sangita Sahu @ Shaw
C. R. M. 3697 of 2018
About/from the judgment:
The High Court recently laid down guidelines for investigation and trial of offences under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. These guidelines, it asserted, need to be followed as the “standard operating procedure in the investigation and prosecution of crime involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.”
The Court in fact opined that the proceedings under the Act are being carried out carelessly, and observed, “Although the menace of trafficking of women and minors have assumed alarming proportions, we note with grave concern the lackadaisical manner in which offences involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children like the present one are investigated, prosecuted and/or pursued…
…investigation in such offences requires to be done by sensitized and specialized agencies and adequate witnesses protection programmes, as well as restitutive and rehabilitative measures, require to be extended to the victims immediately upon their recovery, pending prosecution and even thereafter.”
It, thereafter, set aside the order granting anticipatory bail to Ms. Sahu, and laid down the following guidelines:
“(a) any First Information Report (for short F.I.R.) registered under the I.T.(P) Act or under sections 370/372/373 of I.P.C. or under the provisions of the POCSO Act involving commercial sexual exploitation of women or children should be investigated by a specialised agency like Anti-Human Trafficking Unit;
(b) Such F.I.R.s registered with the local police station must, within 24 hours thereof, be transferred to the specialised agencies for further investigation;
(c) In order to facilitate the investigation in these cases, State Government is directed to set up Anti-Human Trafficking Units in every district which shall be manned by specially trained police personnel not below the rank of Inspector who would be preferably women. These officers shall be notified as special police officers under section 13 of the I.T.(P) Act.
(d) statements of victims who are recovered in the course of raid or thereafter must be mandatorily recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure;
(e) victims must be extended medical assistance which shall include psychological counselling in terms of section 357B of Cr.P.C. at appropriate specialised medical institutions of the State;
(f) upon the recording of their statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure necessary financial assistance by way of interim compensation and/or other rehabilitation measures provided under the Victim Compensation Scheme formulated by the State of West Bengal under Section 357A must forthwith be extended to the victims. In the event, the victims are minors they must be forwarded before the Child Welfare Committee for care, custody, rehabilitation, etc.
(g) Jurisdictional Magistrates/Special Courts to whom the cases are reported shall seek report from the Investigating Agency as well as from the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority with regard to providing of medical assistance, compensatory and/or other rehabilitation assistances to the victims of such crimes;
(h) wherever there is a threat perceptive to the victims and/or their families, they shall be extended police protection and other necessary protective measures by the trial court.
(i) prosecution of such cases shall be done with utmost promptitude and be concluded at an early date.
(j) during trial, learned Public Prosecutors shall ensure the recording of depositions of the victims at the earliest without unnecessary delay preferably within a month from the date of commencement of trial so that any chance of winning over or intimidation of the victims may be minimal.”
Read the Judgment
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