|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 881-882
Lack of special courts under protection of children from sexual offences act: A structural deficit
Deepak Juyal1, Ajay Setia2, Ashutosh Sayana3, Adarsh Kumar4, Vyas Kumar Rathaur5, Benu Dhawan6
1 Department of Microbiology, Government Doon Medical College, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
2 State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Surgery, Government Doon Medical College, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
4 Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
5 Department of Pediatrics, Government Doon Medical College, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
6 Department of Microbiology, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
|Date of Web Publication||15-Feb-2018|
Mr. Deepak Juyal
Department of Microbiology, Government Doon Medical College, Dehrakhas, Patel Nagar, Dehradun - 248 001, Uttarakhand
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Juyal D, Setia A, Sayana A, Kumar A, Rathaur VK, Dhawan B. Lack of special courts under protection of children from sexual offences act: A structural deficit. J Family Med Prim Care 2017;6:881-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Juyal D, Setia A, Sayana A, Kumar A, Rathaur VK, Dhawan B. Lack of special courts under protection of children from sexual offences act: A structural deficit. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Dec 6];6:881-2. Available from: http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2017/6/4/881/225536
The child sexual abuse (CSA), an under-reported offence in india, is among the serious problems plaguing our society and has reached epidemic proportions.,, A study conducted by the Government of India to estimate the burden of CSA revealed shocking results and reported that every 2nd child in the country was sexually abused at some point of time. Children who are victims of sexual abuse often know the perpetrator in some way. Hence, the problem of csa needs to be addressed through less ambiguous and more stringent punishment.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (pocso) act 2012 was formulated to effectively address the heinous crimes of csa and sexual exploitation of children, which came into force on children's day itself, i.e., November 14, 2012. However, even after 5 years of its inception, this act has faced unforeseen challenges in its complete implementation, the chief being failure to set up special pocso courts in all the districts of the country. Setting up of these courts was an essential mandate of the POSCO act, the lack of which has resulted in considerable delay in the disposal and pendency of the cases registered under the act.
As per se ction 28 (1) of the pocso act, the state governments, in consultation with the Chief Justice of High Court, should designate a Sessions Court as a special court to try offences under the pocso act to facilitate speedy trial. However, as per se ction 28 (2), if a sessions court had been already notified as a children's court under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights act or if any other special court has been designated for similar purposes under any other law, it could also be considered as a special court under the pocso act. Unlike other enactments, the importance of this “special statute” lies in the “special courts” for trying offences under the pocso act. Despite the statutory stipulation that every district should have an exclusive pocso court, the directives have been continuously ignored. The apathetic attitude of the state government's bureaucracy is reflected by the fact that until and unless the Supreme Court does not intervene, neither do they formulate any manual related to a law, nor do they fulfill other formalities for its implementation. The POSCO act has faced the same fate, and even after 3 years of its implementation, it was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that the special courts for women and the Juvenile Justice Boards were given the status of Special pocso courts in various districts.
To make matters worse, the judges appointed in such special courts are not subject experts as neither are they provided additional training by the state government nor do they seriously study the law pertaining to such cases. As a consequence, they consider such cases as an additional burden, and hence, cases of csa are not dealt effectively and efficiently as envisaged under the provisions of pocso act 2012. This is reflected by a judgment passed by a special court (actually a sessions court) in Thane, Maharashtra, on the 22nd of December 2016 where the court issued a perjury notice to a 16-year-old minor girl in a case registered under pocso act. The girl had allegedly been subjected to rape by her father. Although she testified against her father in the examination-in-chief, she turned hostile during the final stages of the cross-examination conducted by the defense counsel. The trial strategy on part of the defense was similar to the rape trials involving adult women victims, where attempts are made to devalue the credibility of the victim by questioning her sexual history and moral character. This step belies the spirit and objectives of pocso act, which stipulates child-friendly atmosphere through all stages of the judicial process and given paramount importance to the principle of “best interest of the child.” more importantly section 22 (2) of the act excludes children from being punished for providing false information, and as per the act, a child is defined to be any person below the age of 18 years. In an erroneous move, in this case, the special court relied on the pocso bill, which had allowed a child above 16 years filing a false complaint to be sent to the Juvenile Justice Board for suitable remedial action. However, this clause was deleted when the bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha and is not part of the current law. Unfortunately, in this case, on account of the ignorance of the judge, a judgment was passed in compliance to the pocso bill and led to this erroneous decision. There is an urgent need to educate the medical, judicial, and law-enforcing agencies about the pocso act 2012. Awareness and training of all the stakeholders is one of the important variables in providing comprehensive care and justice to children, the future of our country.
CSA is a scourge of Indian society, and hence, the pocso act was introduced in 2012. However, no law can be implemented effectively and efficiently, without the dedicated and coordinated efforts of the implementing agencies. A multidimensional approach is required in this regard, and the onus lies with the state governments, police department, judicial system, and medical fraternity to implement the act in letter and spirit and to respond to these cases with urgency, empathy, and compassion. Speedy trials are possible if the judges, their staff, prosecution, police, and defense coordinate with each other, failing which concept of special courts will be defeated. Similarly, doctors also need to be trained to understand the intricacies and help in proper scientific collection of various evidences while examining the child victim of sexual abuse.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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