The tearing hurry with which the Uttar Pradesh police disposed of the mortal remains of the minor rape victim at Hathras has raised eyebrows. It is understood that the police officers and the district magistrate of the region can be booked for their conduct.
The police reportedly barricaded the family members of the Dalit girl in a house and proceeded with her cremation. The family has accused the cops of not handing over her body to them and not granting them an opportunity to cremate their daughter with dignity.
"This alleged high-handedness of the cops can land them in huge trouble," said Justice (retd.) Mridula Bhatkar of the Bombay High Court.
According to Justice Bhatkar, if the cops have cremated a body without performing a proper medical examination, then they could be booked for "destroying evidence."
"In cases of rape, medical examination is the only evidence that would enable the prosecution to prove that the victim was raped. But if there is no medical examination, especially the vaginal swab, then the prosecution would find it really difficult to prove the charge of rape," Justice Bhatkar pointed out.
Justice Bhatkar said that medical examination is an important piece of evidence to establish rape, in cases wherein the victim dies.
"In the instant case, the victim died. Thus, the prosecution as of now is only left with circumstantial evidence. The girl is no more there to narrate her ordeal," Justice Bhatkar said.
"The testimony of the victim is important as it is said in rape cases, only the girl can tell the court, whatever trauma she has gone through. The courts usually go by her word, if the same is trustworthy," she added.
But what if the victim is no more? Then, it is only the medical reports that can prove rape. "The medical reports, which basically consist of vaginal swab, can help establish the rape charge. The swab test would also help the prosecution prove whether there is any injury in the vagina. Thus, this is a very important piece of evidence," Justice Bhatkar said.
Meanwhile, a senior forensic expert has said that the vaginal swab in such cases must be taken immediately.
"The forensic report can reveal the presence of semen or sperms only if the vaginal swab is conducted within four to five days of rape. However, if swab test is done seven days after the rape, then there are rare chances of finding any semen," the forensic expert said.