“Ensure strict action on sexual assault complaint within 24 hrs”; HC

Kerala High Court has directed that a proper system available to take action on sexual assault and child abuse complaints within 24 hrs. Justice Devan Ramachandran said that a toll-free number should be provided to raise complaints about sexual assault and a system should be in place for taking action within 24 hours.

The complainant should be contacted within an hour by phone or in-person after receiving a complaint through a toll-free number(112). The complainant should not be asked to appear at the police station, he added. The remark came while the court was hearing a petition filed by a woman against police officers for sexually assaulting her.

Major recommendations of the court

1. The existing toll-free number(112) should be publicized so that the public is aware of it.
2. A sexual assault complaint is received through 112 or 100, it should be registered immediately and reported to the concerned police station.
3. Trained staff should only converse with victims through a toll-free number.
4. The concerned officer should take the victim’s statement, and an FIR should be registered based on the CRPC.
5. The statement must be recorded at the complainant’s home or a place of their choice. The presence of parents, relatives, or a social worker is mandatory.
6. The Victim Liaison Officer should be assigned to assist victims after FIR is lodged. The complainant should be provided with the number of the One-Stop Crisis Centre and VRC (Victim Right Centre).This is to provide support and ensure that no further difficulties are faced by them.
7. Ensure that the assistance of the Victim Liaison Officer is available when needed. This service should be available 24 hours a day.

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