Supreme Court on Monday, March 12, asked for the Registrar Generals of the High Courts across the country to investigate the delay in trial of the cases under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. A plea filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava stated that about 89% of cases under POCSO are still pending judgment.
The recent case of an eight-month-old baby left in the custody of her relatives while her parents were out and who was brutally raped by her 28 year old cousin under the influence of alcohol highlighted the plight of child rape victims who are still waiting for the verdicts on their respective cases. Currently she is being receiving treatment at AIIMS, New Delhi and on the direction of the Apex Court, two doctors who had visited her at the hospital informed the Court of her progress.
The Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) also reported to the Supreme Court that the accused is in judicial custody and an interim compensation to the tune of Rs 75,000 have been paid to the victim’s family. The three judge Division Bench comprising of the Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud expressed their concern about the amount of child sexual assault cases pending under various courts of this country.
Advocate Srivastava drew attention to the 2016 data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which shows only 1100 cases have been disposed of out of 1,01,326 cases in that year, which is but 11% of the total cases registered under different trial courts of this country. A whopping 89% of the cases are yet to be heard by the courts. The petitioner lawyer further reiterated that the Supreme Court set some guidelines that rape cases involving children under 12 years of age should be resolved within six months from the day of lodging of the FIR. Although Advocate Srivastava proscribed death penalty in child rape cases the Centre disagreed with his view, stating that such actions would not bring a fruitful result to combat child sexual offences, instead cases should be judged on their individual merits.
Supreme Court has heard the plea and directed the High Courts of the country under the authority of the Chief Justices of the High Courts to collect and submit the latest data on all the cases pending under POCSO Act and report the same to the Supreme Court Registry within the next four weeks so that a comprehensive and specific plan could be put forth for speedy trial of the said cases in special courts under the Act.