In a bid to ensure speedy probe in sexual harassment cases, Centre has purchased around 5,000 rape investigation kits to be given to police stations across the country, a senior Women and Child Development official said.
The official said that for now, five kits each would be provided to randomly-selected police stations and states have also been asked to chip in with their contribution.
The kits are designed to carry out immediate medical investigation and aid the evidence-gathering exercise in sexual assault and rape cases.
"The Home Ministry has procured 5,000 rape investigation kits that would be distributed to randomly selected police stations across the country for speedy probes in sexual harassment cases," he said.
Each kit comes with a set of test tubes and bottles and costs Rs 200 to Rs 300, the official said.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi last week urged states to buy such kits and arm their police station with them.
The official said the states have responded positively and the Haryana government has even approved their procurement.
"It is often seen that compromised evidence reach forensic laboratories in such cases. So in a bid to overcome that, rape investigation kits would be distributed to all police stations," the official said.
Explaining the functioning of these kits, he said it would be used to collect various samples -- such as blood, semen and sweat -- of the victim which will be locked and sent to the forensic laboratory. It will carry the time of sealing of the samples and also the names of the police officer and the doctor involved.
Gandhi had said there was no forensic analysis in 13,000 rape cases every year as the country's laboratories lacked the capacity. She had also said her ministry has been looking to plug loopholes in the system to ensure rape cases are investigated expeditiously.
"The first ones we found were in the forensic department. We just have the forensic ability for 1,500 people. We used the Nirbhaya fund and with the help of the Ministry of Home Affairs, we are building five new forensic laboratories that will increase the capacity from 1,500 to 20,000," she said.
"At times the forensic laboratories receive compromised evidence, that is why there is a need to distribute the rape investigation kits in every police station," she had said.
As many as 1,10,333 cases of rape were registered in the country between 2014-16, according to government figures.
The figures say that 38,947 cases of rape were registered in 2016, 34,651 in 2015 and 36,735 in 2014.
Altogether 3,38,954 cases of crime against women were registered in 2016, while 3,29,243 such cases were registered in 2015 and 3,39,457 in 2014, according to the government figures.
Rape accounts for about 12 per cent of all crimes against women, according to the figures.
(With PTI inputs)