THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala High Court had recently quashed a child sexual abuse case, under POCSO charges, against a 28-year-old youth after finding that it was fabricated. This verdict has brought to light the misuse of the law for personal gains. The investigating officers rarely go to the bottom of the case to unearth the truth as exemplified by the above-mentioned case. And this occurs despite a standing order from State Police Chief Loknath Behera that advises the officers to probe the cases with diligence as several instances of POCSO Act being misused have come to the fore.
As per the order issued in September last year, there have been instances where children were used as pawns by people with vested interests. “A sizeable percentage of POCSO cases were initiated for settling family disputes/political or personal vengeance. In these cases also, the investigating officers do not care to cross the limits of 164 statements (sic) to find the truth. Care should be taken to ensure POCSO Act is not allowed to be misused by persons with vested interests using kids as pawns,” the order reads.
The order was issued on the basis of a study conducted by a team under the chairmanship of Crime Branch IG S Sreejith. The committee reached the conclusion after reviewing the POCSO cases under investigation. A senior cop said during the review it became clear that a good percentage of cases was fabricated to settle personal or professional scores. “Close to 10 per cent of the cases were fabricated,” said the officer.
Police sources said after the circular was issued, there was a six per cent increase in the number of convictions in POCSO cases. “Some might think that the order could lead to a decrease in convictions. But that’s not true. By probing the cases impartially and efficiently, we managed to increase the conviction rate. That’s a pointer that the probe should be done without any prejudices,” said the officer.
However, cross-checking of the complaints rarely happens at grassroot-levels, said another officer. “One of the reasons is that the investigating officers are under pressure to act swiftly as POCSO cases invite public and media scrutiny. So mostly, the accused are arrested and sent to remand,” the officer said. Police sources said the department would soon issue another order asking the officers to apply their minds while probing POCSO cases.