Two years on, TN's project to up Pocso convictions remains on paper

According to sources, the report received approval from various departments including the police and is currently pending with the social welfare department.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. (Express Illustrations)

CHENNAI: Two years on, Tamil Nadu social welfare department’s project titled, ‘Tamil Nadu Model to End Impunity in Pocso Cases’, intended to increase the conviction rate in Pocso cases still remains on papers.

The department initiated the project after Chief Minister MK Stalin conducted a meeting in November 2021 to discuss the enforcement of the Pocso Act and asked various departments to work together to ensure justice for the victims.

Under the project, the department was planning to concentrate on three main areas—capacity building that aims to increase the will of the stakeholders, enacting necessary procedures to fix the gaps in the system and finding judicial interpretations to set precedents in the prosecution of cases.

While it has been nearly two years since the report for the two-year project was submitted to the social defence department by activists from two NGOs part of the project, it is yet to take off.

According to sources, the report received approval from various departments including the police and is currently pending with the social welfare department.

“One of the main reasons for the low conviction rate in Pocso cases is the romantic relationships of the victims with their minor abusers. While there are several court orders regarding this, we concentrated on how to improve the conviction rate in cases other than this kind. The report talks about how to provide adequate support for the victims to ensure they don’t turn hostile. District Legal Services Authority can also provide support to the victims apart from district-level child protection agencies,” said an activist who was part of the project.

It was also planned to pass separate government orders for the formation of exclusive forensic teams and cyber crime teams to handle Pocso cases apart from district-level acquittal committees and monthly and quarterly reports on the status of the cases at various levels.

“Since 2021, the government has taken some steps to improve the conviction rate in Pocso cases. However, the need for a multi-departmental approach is still not fulfilled. We hope the project will improve the ground-level situation. The state also doesn’t have State Commission for Protection of Child Rights which should monitor the implementation of the act,” said a child rights activist.

According to an RTI reply, in 2021, 4,020 Pocso cases were filed and 8,688 cases were pending at the end of the year. A total of 202 convictions and 753 acquittals happened in the year. In 2022, 4,311 Pocso cases were filed and 10,857 cases pending at the end of the year with 524 convictions and 1,509 acquittals.

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