HC sets up special benches for crimes against women

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 20 Januari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: At a time when the nation is expressing outrage over attacks on women, the Bombay high court, in a move welcomed by the legal fraternity, has for the first time set up two special benches that will hear criminal cases related to offences against women and children.

Two senior women judges, Justice Roshan Dalvi and Justice Rekha P Sondurbaldota, will head the benches.

In a notice signed by registrar and prothonotary D V Sawant and registrar (judicial) Mangesh Patil, the HC said that the judges will from January 21 take up the special assignments related to "offences against women" irrespective of the year in which they were filed.

The special benches will hear applications, including bail and appeals against conviction, in cases related to attacks on women and children. The offences include those covered under the IPC like rape, dowry death, assaulting a woman to outrage her modesty, and sexual harassment. The courts will also hear cases under special acts like the anti-sex-determination-test law, the Domestic Violence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

"This is a welcome step and will accelerate the justice delivery mechanism in cases where atrocities have been committed on women and children," said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam.

Besides handling the 1993 serial blasts and 26/11 terror attack cases, Nikam has also prosecuted the accused in cases of attacks on women like the Marine Drive rape, the Pune Wipro employee rape-murder, the Kothewadi gang rape, and the murder in Amboli of Reuben Fernandes and Keenan Santos after a person allegedly harassed their women friends.

"There should also be a mechanism to set up special trial courts which will hear cases where women and children are the victims, in order to expedite the matters," said Nikam.

Advocate Gayatri Singh, who practises in the high court, said the HC move will help clear the backlog of cases. "Similar measures will also be welcome at the lower levels, where trials are conducted and evidence recorded," said Singh.

Last year the HC had set up a special division bench, which, besides criminal cases, also heard cases where women were the accused.

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