Supreme Court SLP (Civil) Updates

Progress on CEHAT SLP (Civil)

Update on Supreme Court Hearing held on 21st August 2015

Ms. Jaising in her capacity as Amicus curiae submitted a brief to the Honourable judges Shri Madan Lokur and Shri U Lalit. She briefed them about the steps that different ministries had taken post Nirbhaya’s brutal attack and subsequent death in 2012.

Following developments were shared:

  • Ministry of women and child department (MWCD) decided to launch a toll free national help line 181 across all the states of India. The purpose of the help line was to reach out to women and girls facing any form of violence and / or distress
  • Further the MWCD also launched the OSCC, one stop crisis centre program for each state recently and funds for it have been allocated by the Union govt Finance ministry to MWCD
  • Nirbhaya funds which were to the tune of 1000 crores in 2013 received fresh allocation of 1000 crores in 2014. The ministry of finance has transferred the amount of the Nirbhaya funds to the MWCD
  • Legal services authority decided to place a lawyer in every police station across the country, which was a demand from the petition of the Delhi domestic working women’s forum V.s Union Of India (1994)
  • Ministry of health and family welfare (MOHFW) drafted comprehensive and gender sensitive medico legal guidelines to respond to survivors reporting sexual violence.

Ms Jaising submitted before the court that most ministries have been responsive and have provided an update of the steps taken by them. Despite progress made on different fronts, some contentious issues require the attention of the honorable judges.

  • The concern related to marital rape and lack of registration of such an offence was raised. Evidence related to survivors reporting to hospitals and wanting to seek legal redress was presented. But due to the lack of provision in the CLA 2013 for registering such an offence police file it under Sec 377, which is dangerous. It was suggested that the exception in the Rape law needs to be strick down for married and separated women to file marital rape under Sec 376.
  • The issue of age of consent was also raised. Adolescents in the ages between 16 to 18 years may be involved in relationships which are consensual, however under POCSCO 2012 any sexual activity under 18 years is forbidden. This poses a grave danger to adolescents in consensual relationships.
  • One stop crisis centres are being established at the tune of 1 per state, but these are not adequate and such centres be set in each hospital of the country. There is a need to upscale these efforts
  • The need for reparation for survivors of sexual violence was mentioned. Even in situations where the perpetrator of the act is not found, once an FIR is in place such compensation must be offered.
  • The MOHFW has a comprehensive protocol in place and it has been issued to all the states for enabling health professionals to respond to sexual violence. But many states have not adopted it. The Federal system has specific portfolios under the state, health has also been considered a state subject, which has allowed for different protocols for medico legal work in rape across states . But the direction of the Honourable Supreme court can ensure that all states follow a gender sensitive medico legal protocol across the states of India. This can be done under Article 141/ 142 of the Constitution of India in the context that a direction from the Court in that regard will help with uniform implementation of the guidelines.

Lastly , the honourable Judges were provided with the Amicus brief and also the same was shared with all the petitioners as well as with Additional solicitor General for states . Ms Jaising requested the court to develop a road map for uptake of these contentious issues and resolve them systematically. 2 months period was granted to the ASG to respond to the brief and recommendations therein. The next date for the court hearing is 16th October 2015.

Update on Supreme court hearing on 27th March 2014

CEHAT’s SLP 18433/2014 (CEHAT vs. Union of India and Ors) was heard in the Supreme court on 27th March 2014. Ms Indira Jaising, senior advocate Supreme court and founders of Lawyers collective represented CEHAT as its legal counsel.

CEHAT's SLP prayers include :

  • Asking Maharashtra government to stop using unscientific and gender insensitive proforma for medico legal examination of sexual violence.
  • Expand the protocol to include right to health care for all survivors of sexual violence

The Maharashtra protocol is not in consonance with the rape laws of the country namely; POCSCO 2012 , CLA 2013 and provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Indina Penal Code.

Ms Jaising, raised the issue about multiple writ petitions on sexual violence reforms being pending before the Supreme court. These petitions range from asking for better services for women’s safety, creating better transport facilities , improve health care response, bring about changes in sentencing policies etc. .There is a need to review these prayers comprehensively rather than as isolated writ petitions.

Ms Jaising also raised that 2000 crores Nirbhaya funds have been accumulated with the Government since 2013. But there seems to be no utilization of these funds. LC filed an RTI (right to information application. The response received on 27th March stated that only 200 crores have been sanctioned . It is sanctioned for:

  • Scheme on Women Safety on Public Road Transport administered by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, allocation of Rs.50 crores
  • Scheme on backend integration of distress signal from victims with mobile vans and control rooms, administered by MHA. Fund allocation of Rs.150 crores

She ended by saying that there is a need to create comprehensive services . The Honourable court appointed Ms Jaising as Amicus curie to assist the court in dealing with all the pending writ petitions related to sexual violence against women and children . The Govt pleader ( ASG) was requested to take the responsibility of coordinating with the respective ministries and to get their responses on record 4 weeks from the time that we submit our document . We have been asked to submit it 6 weeks from 27th March 2015 (10th July)