Activist of various organizations protest against recent incidents of rape in the country, in Mumbai. Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | AP)
NEW DELHI: With an aim to provide speedy justice to children who are victims of sexual assault, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a slew of directions pertaining to cases filed under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked all high courts to ensure that cases of sexual assault of children are fast-tracked and are decided by special courts. It also asked the HCs to ensure that the proceedings in such cases are conducted in “child-friendly” atmosphere in the courts.
The Bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, further directed the high courts to set up a three-judge committee to monitor and regulate the trial of cases under the POCSO Act.
The apex court further asked the high courts to instruct the trial courts not to grant unnecessary adjournments in cases under the POCSO Act.
The bench also instructed the Directors General or Commissioners of Police in the states to set up Special Task Forces so that the investigations in such cases are carried out expeditiously and witnesses are produced in court on the date of their appearance.
The order came after the bench was informed that a massive 1,12,628 cases under POCSO Act were pending before trial courts across the country, with Uttar Pradesh topping the list at 30,883.
With these directions, the SC disposed of a PIL filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastav, who had approached the top court after an eight-month-old girl was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin on January 28 in a locality near Netaji Subhash Place in northwest Delhi.
Srivastav in his PIL filed in January sought provision of death penalty in such cases and framing of guidelines that investigation and trial of cases involving rape of children below 12 years of age under POSCO Act be completed in six months from the date of registration of the FIR.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand informed the court that the government had amended the law to provide for death penalty for the rape of children younger than 12 years.
The Centre’s move came following public outcry over the gang-rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl at Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir.