SC for district-level courts for child abuse cases

SC for district-level courts for child abuse cases

SC directs for setting up special courts in each district with over 100 child abuse cases

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed for setting up of special courts in each district across the country where over a 100 cases of child abuse and sexual assault were pending trial under the Protection of Children Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The top court also said that there can't be delay in such cases where the children were the victims who were to be treated with compassion, and kindness. “A completely different approach is required while investigating and trying POCSO cases,” it stressed.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose ordered that special courts, along with the child-friendly infrastructure and appointment of special prosecutor and support staff, must be set up within 60 days on funds provided by the Union government.

The court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file a progress report in four weeks as it decided to take up the matter, pertaining to suo motu PIL on alarming rise in child abuse cases, again on September 26.

During the hearing, senior advocate V Giri, acting as amicus curiae, pointed out in Delhi's Saket court premises, there were two POCSCO courts.

On this, the bench said its concern was not in reference to the National Capital, but the courts in States like Madhya Pradesh, Tripura etc where privacy meant drawing a curtain between the victim in a POCSO court and the accused.

"We are concerned about States where there is hardly any infrastructure. Where the Magistrate has hardly any room; where he or she sits in a small four-by-four enclosure as a chamber covered with used bags. These presiding officers who lack basic infrastructure and yet is snowed under by cases under new laws. These are the real issues which affect the judiciary and not the Supreme Court Collegium. Somewhere, we lost the track," the bench rued.

The court also said the special court must have support system for performing the role of a bridge between the child victim and the court's officers and investigators. The support system must comprise of dedicated people with excellent academic qualifications and devotion to child rights.

The top court had registered the suo motu case on the basis of the news reports and after seeking reports from the high courts. It had then said the court would pass directions to ensure a "concerted" and "clear" national response against such acts.

The court noted that since January 1 to June 30 this year, 24,212 FIRs have been filed across India.

Out of over 24,000 cases, 11,981 are still being probed by the police and in 12,231 cases, police have filed the charge sheet, it said. Trials have commenced in 6,449 cases only, it said, adding that they are yet to commence in 4,871 cases. Till now, the trial courts have decided only 911 cases, about 4 per cent of the total cases registered.

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