Delhi High Court Stresses FIRs in Minor Rape Cases Reflect Trauma it is not Mere Documents

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Published on: December 22, 2023 at 11:54 IST

The Delhi High Court emphasized that FIRs (First Information Reports) in cases involving sexual assault and rape against minors should not be viewed as mere printed papers but as reflections of the profound trauma endured by the victims.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma highlighted that these reports depict the lived experiences of individuals, making it challenging to capture the full extent of their suffering on a piece of paper.

The observation came during a case related to a plea filed by the mother of a 16-year-old girl challenging a trial court’s decision to reject the victim’s request for preserving CCTV footage and call detail records (CDRs) of the accused individuals.

The court, in its remarks, acknowledged that dealing with sexual assault cases involving minor victims requires a sensitive and empathetic approach, rejecting a mechanical handling by the legal system. Justice Sharma emphasized that the court’s role extends beyond legal interpretation, serving as a “bastion of sensitivity and empathy” when adjudicating cases of sexual assault.

“This Court is also of the firm opinion that sensitivity is not a selective attribute applicable to certain cases or stages of trial; rather, it is an inherent requirement for every judicial proceeding. Sensitivity has to be shown by the Courts at every stage of the trial, especially in a case of sexual assault of a minor,” stated the Court.

The specific case involved allegations that a minor was raped by three men who recorded the act and threatened to publish the video if she raised an alarm.

Setting aside the trial court’s order, the Delhi High Court directed the Investigating Officer to collect CCTV footage around the victim’s house on the day of the incident and the CDRs of the accused persons from January to May 2023.

The Court highlighted the crucial nature of preserving evidence in such cases, as it not only impacts the pursuit of justice but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining the victim’s faith in the judicial system.

The loss of evidence in such cases will result in the loss of hope for getting justice, as justice may, at times, primarily depend on such evidence. The date of the incident is crucial in a criminal case, and therefore, as discussed above, the evidence that the victim pleaded with the Trial Court to be preserved was as crucial as preserving the victim’s faith in the judicial system,” concluded the court.

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