The Supreme Court has laid stress on the standard operating procedure (SOP) of assigning investigation into rape cases to female investigation officers (IOs) while upholding conviction of a teacher who raped his 15-year-old female student in 2014. A trial court convicted the teacher, Irfan Ali Sher, and sentenced him to 14 years’ rigorous imprisonment for sexually assaulting the girl on September 15, 2014 in Kasur. The court had also ordered him to pay a fine of Rs25,000, failing to pay which would entail an additional punishment of six months. Sher moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the verdict. The LHC upheld his conviction but reduced the petitioner’s sentence of rigorous imprisonment from fourteen years to ten years.
The convict later filed an appeal in the Supreme Court whose division bench, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heard the petition. Ayesha Tasnim advocate was appointed to represent the petitioner at state’s expense as Sher was unrepresented. The counsel submitted that the FIR was lodged on September 16, a day after the rape. She said the DNA report was not sought and the clothes which the victim was wearing at the time of the stated crime were not provided to the investigation officer. The delayed medical examination of the victim took place on September 17, 2014 – two days after the incident. The counsel also argued that the victim and her parents had earlier resorted to filing such type of cases for alleged blackmailing.
Justice Isa while authoring judgment noted that in rape cases victims and their families may be reluctant to come forward to promptly report the crime because of trauma and they may have a perception of shame or dishonour in having the victim invasively examined by a doctor.