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SC deliberates on clearing road blocks for expeditious disposal of child rape cases

twitter-logoPTI | July 25, 2019 | Updated 19:02 IST

New Delhi, Jul 25 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday deliberated on ways to clear road blocks in the expeditious disposal of cases of sexual offences against children and favoured a pro-active role by the Centre in providing funds for infrastructure and manpower. It discussed threadbare the issues such as lack of infrastructure and huge vacancies in subordinate courts, delays in forensic science laboratory (FSL) reports due to inadequate number of laboratories and need for designated courts to deal with cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The top court was of the view that the special Act to deal with sexual offences against children has enumerated the modalities of addressing the registration of FIRs, appointment of prosecutors, procedure for trial, compensation, among others, for providing speedy justice. "You have started with education, sensitization and then you have gone to investigation. Early conclusion of investigation and commencement and early conclusion of trial in these cases are the areas in which we will go," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. "So far as investigations are concerned, what are the drawbacks and bottlenecks," the bench asked senior advocate V Giri, who is assisting it as an amicus curiae in the case relating to 'alarming rise in the number of reported child rape incidents'. At the outset, Giri told the court that trial in POCSO cases was getting delayed due to non-availability of FSL reports and the states should be asked to mandatorily provide for establishment of dedicated FSL exclusively for POCSO cases in each district where the number of incidents reported is more than average. He said that states should have special juvenile police but none of the states have paid attention to this. "In how many states special juvenile police is constituted and in how many states special (POCSO) courts are constituted," the bench asked Giri and said that even in regular courts, a jurisdiction for trying cases under POCSO can be issued through a notification. Giri said that special courts were there in the states. The bench then asked as to why Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has not appeared in the matter despite the apex court's order asking him to assist it in the case. "They make long, long statements before media but when it comes to actual work, nobody appears and nothing is done," the bench said. Mehta later appeared in the matter. The bench observed that trial court judges dealing with cases under special law were overburdened with number of cases assigned to them. "There is one judge in special court and you give him cases after cases and then ask him to complete the case within three-four or six months," the bench said. During the hearing, Giri said there are two POCSO courts in Saket district court here and they are architecturally structured as per the provisions of the Act, having vulnerable witness room and child friendly court. He said that as per the Act, question cannot be put directly to the child victim and it has to be asked through a support person who is specifically trained on how to deal with children in POCSO cases. Giri said that average number of POCSO cases dealt by a trial judge in Delhi as per 2013 data is 400. Referring to the issue of delay in getting FSL reports, the amicus said generally, FSL report come with a delay of around six to nine months and in most of these cases charges cannot be framed without these reports. The bench observed that there was a need to have special juvenile police and the biggest hurdle in the investigation is that there were not have enough number of forensic lab. Giri, while contending that there was no adequate facility for storage of samples at FSL, told the bench that on an average, every districts in the country has 250 POCSO cases. "In many states, you do not have DNA test facility. The effort should be to sent the sample immediately for test," the bench said. On the issue of lack of infrastructure and manpower in subordinate courts, the bench observed that "states cannot do all these things on its own and we will ensure that the Central government provide all facilities". The solicitor general told the top court that he can sit together with Giri and give suggestions to the court on what needs to be done. "If you have the law, why do you need directions from the court? To make a law is not difficult. To ensure that law is implemented effectively is difficult," the bench observed. On the issue of special prosecutors for POCSO courts, the bench said since these prosecutors would deal with children, some amount of compassion and sensitivity was needed. The bench was also apprised about the available data on the number of cases registered under the POCSO Act and also about its disposal rate. PTI ABA SJK RKS SA

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