In a very perceptive move that holds out the promise of more sensitivity towards victims of sexual assailants, the Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered that the staff in all cases related to sex crimes will now be women. The order comes into effect today on International Women’s Day.
A circular issued by the registrar-general said the move would enable victims to give their evidence in a “stress-free” atmosphere and without fear or embarrassment. The circular reads, “Directions have already been issued to assign cases involving sexual assault against women exclusively to the courts presided over by women judicial officers. It is settled law that cases involving sexual assault against women are required to be dealt with greater sensitivity.”
The circular points out that in such cases, women are victims of the crime and in order to enable them to give their evidence in a “stress-free” atmosphere and without any fear or embarrassment, all staff members, including bench clerks, stenographers, interpreters, typist-cum-clerks, havildar and peons, will be women. The circular issued by Registrar-General SB Shukre added, “March 8 being Women’s Day, the Chief Justice has directed that the above instructions be implemented immediately.”