Supreme Court judge Justice V Gopala Gowda on Saturday expressed disappointment at the lack of will and delay in the implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) in Karnataka.
Speaking at the workshop conducted by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) and Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA), Gowda said, “Authorities and officers who must be at the helm of affairs, implementing this act are totally indifferent to it. Setting up a special court is not enough. They must also ensure that strict action is taken against violators of children,” he said.
Pointing out that many senior officials had not attended the workshop, Gowda said, “Some officials came late, many, including police officers, have not even turned up. It shows how irresponsible they are towards their duty. How can we address an issue like child sexual assault in such a situation?”
Along with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the KSCPCR, Special Juvenile Police Units, District Child Protection Officers, local police and head of educational institutions must come together and see to it that the POCSO Act comes as an aid to protect little children. “Heads of any institution that has children must also participate. It is grim reality that most of the sexual offences occur behind closed doors and the perpetrator is known to the child. Most of them are getting away because of the lacunae existing in our legal system,” he said.
“Even juvenile homes and special homes are unsafe. The government has no data on the condition of the children are in these places. It is not just girls, even young boys are being increasingly subjected to sexual assault.” He said that district child protection officers must maintain a registry of translators and interpreters present in the area who can participate in the proceedings of a sexual assault case.
Justice K Shreedhar Rao of the Karnataka High Court said that almost a year after the act was notified on November 14, 2012, the special courts designated have not started functioning.
“The government should act on this soon and the KSCPCR must ensure than no case goes unreported,” Rao said.