Rape is recognized as a crime committed against the State; therefore the State or District Government appoint a lawyer to the Survivor to represent her case. Such lawyers are known as Public Prosecutors.
Q 1. How is a lawyer appointed to fight the survivor’s case :
Once the case is registered by the police, they forward it to the concerned Court, where the case gets filed.
Given such offences are considered a state crime, the State or District Government that the survivor belongs to, appoints a Public Prosecutor to represent her case.
Survivor’s do not need to pay the lawyer any fee to fight their case.
The respective State or District Government covers such expenses.
Q 2. How is a Public Prosecutor appointed :
- For every High Court, the Central or the State Government shall, after consultation with the High Court, appoint a Public Prosecutor and may also appoint one or more Additional Public Prosecutors, for conducting any prosecution, appeal or other proceedings on its behalf.
- More than one Public Prosecutor may be appointed per case should the need for it arise.
- Same applies to District Courts as well.
- The person shall be eligible to be a Public Prosecutor only after he has been in practice as an advocate for not less than 7 years.
Q 3. Can the plaintiff (survivor) request for a Private Advocate instead of a Public Prosecutor to fight her case :
- If the Plaintiff is not satisfied with the State-appointed lawyer, she could request the Court for permission to hire a Private Advocate.
- The latter may be appointed only with the Court’s consent.
- The private advocate cannot conduct the prosecution and can only assist the Public Prosecutor with guidance and written arguments.
Q 4. Provisions to change the appointed Public Prosecutor to an alternate one :
Incase the Plaintiff feels that the Public Prosecutor appointed to her is not fighting her case with competence or fairness, she may petition for a change in representation through the following ways –
- Filing a complaint to the Law and Judiciary Department of the concerned State. Example – Law and Judiciary Department, Government of Maharashtra.
- Filing an application of the grievance or making a submission before the concerned court itself.
- A copy of the complaint may also be addressed to The Ministry of Law and Justice which exercises overall superintendence and control over the functioning of a Public Prosecutor.
- One can initiate legal action against the Public Prosecutor under Sec. 2(C) of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 if the facts and events support the plaintiff’s case.
Q 5. Are there any provisions to withdraw a case :
Section 321 of the CrPC deals with the – Withdrawal from prosecution –
The Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor in charge of a case may, with the consent of the Court, at any time before the judgment is pronounced, withdraw the case –
- if it is made before a charge has been framed, the accused shall be discharged in respect of such offence.
- if it is made after a charge has been framed, he shall be acquitted.
- This power of the public prosecutor in charge of case is derived from the statute and must be exercised in the interest of the administration of justice.
Q 6. Provision in the event that the Plaintiff is a Foreign National :
- The law does not differentiate based on nationality. A woman of foreign nationality also gets assigned a Public Prosecutor and goes through the same procedural measures.
- Victim’s Consulate or High Commission may help in the registration of case and future follow up