The Supreme Court has ruled in a landmark decision that the testimony of a prosecutor with a disability or a disabled witness cannot be deemed weak or inferior simply because they engage with the world differently than their able-bodied counterparts (Patan Jamal Vali v. State of Andhra Pradesh).
While the amendments to the law on the books are a major move forward, the bench stated that more work remains to be done to ensure that the benefits of the changes are appreciated by those who benefited from them.
The National Judicial Academy and state judicial academies have been asked to train trial and appellate judges on how to deal with cases involving sexual assault survivors. This training should familiarise judges with the special provisions that apply to survivors like those described above.
In this regard, public prosecutors and standing counsel should receive similar training. The Bar Council of India can consider including these subjects, as well as the intersectional nature of violence in general, in the LL.B curriculum.
To ensure the successful realisation of the fair accommodations contained in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013, trained special educators and interpreters must be named.
The National Crimes Record Bureau should strongly consider keeping gender-based abuse data that is not aggregated. Police officers should be provided sensitization, on a regular basis, to deal with cases of sexual violence against women with disabilities, in an appropriate way.
Awareness-raising campaigns must be conducted, in accessible formats, to inform women and girls with disabilities, about their rights when they are at the receiving end of any form of sexual abuse.
The bench was considering an appeal filed by the sole accused who was tried for committing rape on the victim girl, who is about 20 years old and blind by birth, in her home, under Section 376(1) of the IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The verdict had been upheld by the High Court.