New Delhi, May 15: Victims of sexual offences have an obligatory say in the hearing of bail pleas of accused, the Delhi High Court said while ordering re-circulation of practice directions on it.

Justice Brijesh Sethi, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, was informed that trial courts are violating the directions earlier issued by the high court by passing bail orders without adhering to mandatory requirement of issuance of notice to the complainant or authorised person on the bail plea of accused of sexual offences, NDTV reported.

The judge said, “Since it is submitted by the counsel for the petitioner that number of courts are not following the above directions, let the Registrar General of this court once again circulate the Practice Directions” of September 24, 2019 and high court’s orders of November 25, 2019 and January 27 this year to all the District and Session Judges in Delhi.

The District and Sessions Judges will bring the directions to the notice of the criminal courts dealing with matters of sexual offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act under their respective jurisdiction, the high court said.

The high court was hearing a plea by the mother of a minor rape victim challenging the interim bail granted to the accused by a trial court without giving them a hearing or notice.

Advocate Tara Narula, representing the victim, said the trial court’s order granting interim bail to the accused on May 5 was passed in a routine manner and was not only bad in law but it also suffered from procedural lapse on the part of the sessions court. She said the order was passed without issuance of notice to the complainant of FIR and denied the opportunity of hearing. 

The counsel submitted that with effect from April 21, 2018 there was an amendment in the law by which it has been mandated that the presence of the informant or any person authorised, shall be obligatory at the time of hearing of the application for bail to the person, accused of sexual offences.

The prosecutor submitted that the earlier directions of the high court are being followed by the prosecution in its true letter and spirit and these directions will also be brought to the notice of the Investigating Officers concerned for strict compliance thereof.

The high court, in its last year’s orders, directed circulating the practice directions on it among the district judges and later, the directions were extended to the cases lodged under the POCSO Act.

Advocate Narula submitted that a direction was issued to the District Judges, National Commission for Protection of Children Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Children Rights (SCPCR) to strictly comply with the same.

The court was informed by the lawyer that the victim and her family live in the vicinity of the accused and enlarging him on interim bail is a threat to their lives.

The high court issued notice to the police and the accused on the victim’s plea challenging his interim bail and listed the matter for further hearing on May 22.

“Since the petitioner has also sought protection from the accused, let mobile number of concerned police officials be provided to the first informant/petitioner forthwith so that in case of any exigency, the concerned officials can be contacted,” the court said.

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