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Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi JJ., issued directions in a case involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children that are to be followed as a standard operating procedure in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.

The present case deals with the application for cancellation of bail for the offences under Sections 363/366/370/370 A/373/120 B/34 IPC, r/w Sections 3/4/5/6/7/9 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Sections 4/6/17 of the POCSO Act and Section 81 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. It has been alleged by the petitioner that after the disclosure of the opposite-party being involved in such grave offences with evidence on record, the order of anticipatory bail granted needs to be set aside as the order indeed seems to be given without any application of mind and in absolute mechanical manner.

While noting the facts and circumstances along with the submission of parties, the Court stated that ‘We are pained by the laconic and casual manner in which the learned Judge chose to allow an application for pre-arrest bail in a case relating to the commercial sexual exploitation of underage girls by an organised crime racket’.

Therefore, the High Court giving due weightage to the fact that menace of trafficking of women and minors have been observed in alarming proportions and the lackadaisical manner in which these cases are investigated, the following directions need to be adhered to:

  • FIR registered under I.T (P) Act or under Section 370/372/373 IPC or the provisions of the POCSO Act, needs to be investigated by specialized agency like Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.
  • FIR’s as stated in the above cases must be transferred within 24 hours to the specialized agency.
  • State Government to set up Anti-human Trafficking units in every district manned by police personnel, not below the rank of inspector, preferably women.
  • Section 164 CrPC: Statements of victims recovered under raid or any such circumstance to be recorded under the said Section.
  • Medical Assistance to victims under Section 357 CrPC.
  • Compensation under ‘Victim Compensation Scheme’ to be granted
  • Jurisdictional Magistrates/Special Courts shall seek reports from the investigating agency as well as Secretary, District Legal Services Authority.
  • Trial Court shall provide appropriate protection to the victims and its family members.
  • Depositions to be recorded within a month from the commencement of trial.

The High Court disposed of the application for cancellation of bail in accordance to the issued directions. [State of W.B v. Sangita Sahu, 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 4853, order dated 05-07-2018]