The government has scrapped an over 20-year-old provision of conducting medical examination in cases of non-invasive sexual harassment like gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of women and stalking against SC and ST victims to enable them get quicker relief under a new law.
The new Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Preventionof Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016, notified recently by government, also has provision of increased relief to victims ranging from Rs 85,000 to Rs 8.25 lakh. Earlier the amount ranged between Rs 75,000 and Rs 7.5 lakh, depending upon the nature of the offence.
Earlier 50 per cent of the amount was paid after medical examination and remaining 50 per cent at the conclusion of the trial, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
However, the new Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015 which came into force on January 26 this year, included a series of new offences following which the rules had to be modified. “Under the newly formed rules, separate provision of relief for offences of rape and gangrape were introduced for the first time to give effect to the amended provisions. “These offences fall under the category of invasive offences and also offences like assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking which fall under non-invasive category have also been specifically mentioned. “Now, in cases of non-invasive offences, we have done away with the medical examination part. Medical examination is now required only in crimes of invasive nature,” the official said. The new rules also mandate that investigation and filing of charge sheet in cases of atrocities against SC/ST women will now have to be completed within 60 days of commission of the offence. Earlier, there was no time limit for filing of charge sheet, but the investigations had to be completed within 30 days. The rules envisage that for “victims of gangrape [Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)], payment of Rs 8.25 lakh be made to the victim with 50 per cent after medical examination and confirmatory medical report, 25 per cent when the charge sheet is sent to the court and 25 per cent on conclusion of trial by the lower court.” In the case of rape [Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)], “a provision of Rs five lakh rupees payment is to be made – 50 per cent after medical examination and confirmatory medical report, 25 per cent when the charge sheet is sent to the court and 25 per cent on conclusion of trial by the lower court.” For immediate withdrawal of money from the treasury so as to timely provide the relief amount, the concerned state government or Union Territory administration may provide necessary authorisation and powers to the District Magistrate. “These rules will speed up the process of dispensation of justice to victims of atrocities. They are strongly sensitive in cases of offences against women and liberalise and expedite access to relief for the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who have been victims of atrocities,” said the official. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment notified the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016 on April 14, the birthday of B R Ambedkar.