To enforce Pocso Act better, child rights panel to frame SOPs

To enforce Pocso Act better, child rights panel to frame SOPs

To enforce Pocso Act better, child rights panel to frame SOPs

For better coordination among various stakeholders, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) is framing a set of standard operating procedures for implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

When a case of child sexual abuse surfaces, many stakeholders such as the police, doctors, child welfare committee, public prosecutors among others have to get involved.

“There is no coordination among the departments and it is quite haphazard. We want to create a better link among stakeholders, so that it is clear who has to enter the process when. This will help with speedy disposal of cases,” said Kripa Alva, chairperson of KSCPCR.

The commission is creating stakeholder-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) working with several non-governmental and governmental organisations.

The department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (Nimhans) has developed an SOP detailing the protocol for agencies providing psychosocial and mental health care for children who are victims of sexual abuse.

NGO Enfold Trust is assisting the state police to draw up an SOP and is also creating guidelines for support persons, who remain with the family through the entire process of filing the complaint, medical examinations, trials and so on.

“The Pocso Act provides for a support person but not everyone can become one. The SOP clearly lays out what training and knowledge they should have. It describes the role of the support person and ensures that they don’t trample on existing government systems,” said Kushi Kushalappa of Enfold Trust.

Poor awareness
Provisions for witness protection and compensation for the victim exist, but families are often not aware of this, said B T Venkatesh, former public prosecutor in the Karnataka High Court.

As partner at ReachLaw, he mooted the idea of creating SOPs. “The law talks about how to take a complaint and what procedures are to be followed but it does not think about how to make things work for the victim,” he said.

Alva said that drawing up and finalising the SOP would take another two or three months, after which it will be presented to the government.