CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry in to Health and Allied Themes) filed an intervention petition in the Nagpur High Court on 9th Sept 2010 in a Public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Dr.Ranjana Pardhi and others against Union of India in 2009. The Lawyers Collective is representing CEHAT for this petition. The PIL by Ranjana Pardhi and others seeks to streamline the medico legal response to sexual assault.
The existing government proformas for sexual assault are archaic and not in accordance with the international standards or existing laws in the country. It is important to note here that: a. health facilities across the country do not have a uniform protocol and procedure for responding to sexual assault, b. the forensic role (evidence collection) always takes precedence to the health care/medical role (treatment).
It is unfortunate that the government should develop a form for the first time sans any reference to existing laws and WHO guidelines on the subject. Apart from several issues related to consent and history taking, these protocols ask doctors to conduct two-finger test and comment on past sexual history of the survivor.
As a response to this petition, the state government set up a committee to revise their current sexual assault examination proforma, as well as to review the proformas submitted by the petitioners and the intervenors. Though this is a positive development, the committee largely comprises forensic doctors. This poses a problem; as in almost all public hospitals it is a gynecologist who conducts sexual assault examination and never a forensic doctor. Further the revised proforma continues to lay over emphasis on forensic examination and absolutely no importance has been given to treatment protocols. Within forensic examination too, the committee continues to use 2 finger tests and hymen examination in the proforma, which have been ruled out by the WHO as obsolete criteria for sexual assault examination.
CEHAT has submitted a letter stating the concerns with the revised proforma submitted by the committee as well as with the constitution of the committee itself.
On 2nd February 2011 in the course of the court hearing, learned counsel, Mr. Anand Grover, Advocate of Lawyers collective, suggested that the committee set up by the state government should include gynecologists, viz.. Dr. Seema Malik and Dr. Nitkhil Datar, involved in setting up comprehensive response to sexual assault as well as review the comprehensive health package being offered in these 3 hospitals. This suggestion has been accepted.
For the court order please go to... Click