Telangana needs 8 yrs to clear backlog of POCSO cases: Report

According to the data by the Department of Justice, there are 36 FTSCs in Telangana including nine POCSO courts.
Representational image.
Representational image.

HYDERABAD: Child sexual abuse victims in Telangana might have to wait till the year 2031 for justice, assuming no new cases are registered during the eight-year backlog, as the number of cases pending in special courts as on January 2023 is 10,605. These numbers were released in ‘Justice awaits: An analysis of the efficacy of justice delivery mechanisms in cases of child sexual abuse in India’, a research paper released by India Child Protection Fund (ICPF).

The study highlights that the conviction rate in Telangana has decreased from 19.1% in 2020 to 12.3% in 2021. It was 8.7% in 2019. The paper further states that given the present scenario, while Arunachal Pradesh would take 30 years to complete the trials of cases pending under POCSO as of January 2023, Delhi will take 27 years, Bihar 26, West Bengal 25, and Meghalaya 21 years to clear the backlog. The country on average will take nine years to clear the backlog.

The Central government has established fast track special courts (FTSCs) to expedite the trial process of cases related to sexual offences particularly those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. According to the data by the Department of Justice, there are 36 FTSCs in Telangana including nine POCSO courts.

The study by ICPF highlights that each FTSC in the country on average disposes of just 28 cases per year, which means the expenditure in one conviction is around Rs 9 lakh. “Each FTSC was expected to dispose of 41-42 cases in a quarter and at least 165 in a year. The data suggests that FTSCs are unable to achieve the set targets even after three years of the launch of the scheme,” the paper said.

To clear the piling backlog, the paper has put forth a few pertinent recommendations. Firstly, all FTSCs should be operational and there should be a robust framework for output-based monitoring of their functioning. Besides, the entire FTSC staff should be exclusively attached to these courts so that they can take up these cases on a priority basis. The paper further recommends setting up more FTSCs to clear the backlog of the cases. Moreover, the FTSCs’ dashboard should be in the public domain for transparency.

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