India

MHA guidelines to allow sexual assault victims to depose from abroad

MHA guidelines to allow sexual assault victims to depose from abroad

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has drafted a fresh set of guidelines which will enable sexual assault victims and witnesses to depose before Indian courts even from foreign shores.

These guidelines were drafted in order to ensure that there is no delay in recording the testimony of a prosecutrix who is based abroad, through video conferencing.

A fast track court in December last year had sent a reference to the Delhi High Court, raising an issue that due to lack of procedure in place, it was not able to record the testimony of a woman who left for the US after she had reported that she was sexually assaulted in 2017 in Delhi.

The High Court sought to know from the Centre whether there was any mechanism in place for the expeditious service of documents, summons, warrants and judicial process for foreign nationals.

Maintaining that there were guidelines in this regard, senior government counsel T P Singh handed over a photocopy of fresh guidelines on the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, 2019, issued by the MHA. The guidelines deal not only with the service of summons, notices and judicial process but also with video conferencing.