'POCSO Act overlooked due to lack of awareness'

Important provisions of the Pocso Act have been overlooked due to lack of awareness, seven years after its implementation, Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Abhay S Oka said on Sunday.

This has led to the suppression of the victims, he said. He was speaking after releasing a handbook on 'Standard Operating Procedures for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012' at the high court.

Justice Oka said it was high time to evaluate the procedural lapses in the Act, as this was resulting in suppression of victims and denial of justice. Children are silently suffering due to lack of awareness about the Act and even mothers of victims are refusing to report the offence to the police.

Section 43 of the Act has provision for creating awareness about the law, he said.

It is necessary to train the stakeholders involved in delivering justice to victims of child exploitation. Most importantly, public prosecutors shall be trained under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and the Pocso Act.

Unfortunately, more than 40% of posts of public prosecutors in the state are lying vacant. On an average, each prosecutor is working with three courts in the state, Justice Oka added.

Presiding over the function, Justice B V Nagarathna, high court judge and chairperson of Juvenile Justice and Pocso Committee, said the SOP has been prepared to prescribe the role and responsibilities of the police, prosecution, forensic laboratories, medical persons and doctors, child psychologists and all supporting persons to enable the judiciary to effectively adjudicate the cases.

KSCPCR chairperson Dr Antony Sebastian, former chairperson Dr Kripa Amar Alva and Child Protection Specialist, Unicef, Sonykutty George were present.

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