The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has prepared a standard operating procedure (SOP) on collection and processing of forensic evidence to ensure effective prosecution leading to conviction in cases of sexual assault on women, officials said on Wednesday.
The SOP, which was prepared in consultation with medical experts, has been sent to various states and union territories so that instructions can be issued to all officers concerned for its implementation, they said.
"The National Human Rights Commission, in order to ensure effective prosecution leading to conviction in cases of sexual assault on women, has prepared a 'Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Collection & Processing of scientific/forensic evidences'," the NHRC said in a statement.
The SOP has been broken down into seven sections of key operating procedures. These sections are victim care, promptness and examination, collection of samples, collection of blood and urine samples, genital and anal evidence, handing over samples to FSL, and general guidelines, it said.
"The commission has come out with this SOP after it observed that in many cases of alleged rape and sexual assault, there is substantial delay in medical examination, collection and processing of scientific and forensic evidences of the victim," the statement said.
The exhibits are forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) after much delay and by that time, the samples deteriorate or autolyse and become unsuitable for examination, the rights panel said.
"This delay adversely affects the investigation for effective prosecution leading to conviction," it added.
The NHRC hopes that this SOP, if implemented in letter and spirit by the authorities, will definitely help improve the system of medico-legal investigation in cases of sexual assault on women in the country, the official said.
The SOP can be accessed through the NHRC website here.