SC to look at rising child rape cases, POCSO Act

SC to look at rising child rape cases, POCSO Act

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to collect district wise data from registrars of all high courts on the total number of child rape cases and the duration of the pending cases.

Last week, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognisance of the 24,212 child sexual abuse cases that have been reported in the country in the last six months.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justice Deepak Gupta looked at state-wise data of child rape cases and asked the apex court registry to get the data within the next 10 days. They will decide on issuing directives to curb the rise in crimes in the next hearing which is on July 10.

 As per the data collected by the court, out of 24,212 FIRs registered nationally, 4 per cent of the cases have been disposed and the others are awaiting trial. 

The law that governs child abuse

Child sexual abuse was recognised as a separate offence in 2012, and it was brought under the umbrella of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The Act was introduced for the protection of children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. The Union Government recently gave the nod to amend sections of the POCSO Act and include the death penalty as punishment for cases of sexual offences against children.

Apart from the POCSO Act, the Lok Sabha last year passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, for the girl child, that proposes to increase the punishment for child rape. The Bill also sought to double the punishment for the rape of girls under 12 years from 10 years to 20 years.

Another Bill, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was tabled in the Lok Sabha that amends the POCSO Act and seeks to enhance its punishments. 

Despite laws being in place, what has caused these numbers to rise?

A study from Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation said that one of the reasons is the slow pace of such cases being heard in courts. The foundation studies the pace of trials, court convictions and completion of cases in each state. 

If no additional cases are reported under the POCSO Act, 2012, then the country would take 20 years to clear the backlog of cases reported in 2016, said a report from the foundation. "Do you think that a 15-year-old girl abused today will be attending court hearings when she turns 60?", said the report.

Year of last POCSO case disposal in states.