Panel pitches for serious measures to strengthen Pocso

In the backdrop of recent heinous cases of crime against women, including the Hyderabad rape and murder incident, a Parliamentary panel has pitched for “serious measures” for strengthening and effective implementation of the Pocso Act, 2012, a law that deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children.

The report presented before Rajya Sabha on Thursday by the 10-member Standing Committee on Petitions of the Rajya Sabha, headed by BJD MP Prasanna Acharya, has made 11 recommendations and also urged the Home Ministry to publish the updated data on crimes by NCRB at the earliest.

The panel that interacted with senior officials of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Home Affairs and Law and Justice and examined the roots and corrective course of action of the problem in two meetings held in September and December this year, expressed grave concern over the increasing number of cases of child sexual abuses throughout the country and made various recommendations to address the prevailing "grim situation".

The panel, which felt the government should take necessary measures for inculcating "sense of dignity of women", also came out with a suggestion that court proceedings involving Pocso cases should be more child-friendly and a Victim Protection Programme may well be initiated and implemented, enabling the victim to deal with the pressure to turn hostile.

The panel recommended the expeditious establishment of Fast Track courts should be expedited and asked every State/UT appointing a special prosecutor to conduct the trial on behalf of the prosecuting agency.

The pitch of the panel was that “free and fair trials” should be done in a speedy and time-bound manner.

The panel also said that the special focus should be given on spreading awareness in the rural areas of the Country about the safeguards, punishments and various provisions prescribed in the Act.

An effective and continuous awareness programme against child abuse will lead to a transformation of societal attitudes and help in building a protective environment for every child in this country, it said.

 The panel rued that the data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have not been updated and published since 2016, leading to non-availability of actual data regarding the cases registered, charge-sheets filed, trials completed in cases of sexual offences against children up till now since 2016.

 The panel noted with concern that although the POCSO Act was enacted in the year 2012, some important rules are yet to be formulated and the Act in itself is not being properly implemented.

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