March 18, 2018 3:20:34 pm
Sexual assault cases involving child victims rose to over one lakh in 2016 across the country and only 229 of them were adjudicated upon by trial courts in that year, the Supreme Court has been informed. The figure were brought recently to the notice of a bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which asked the Registrar Generals of high courts across the country to collect and collate data on pending cases of sexual offences against children as victims lodged under stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The Act provides that such cases have to be decided within a year after the trial court takes cognisance of the charge sheet.
Lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava, who has filed a PIL in a rape case of an eight-month-old girl by her adult cousin, referred to the 2016 data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and said 229 cases, out of the total of 1,01,326 POCSO cases, were decided by trial courts that year. He said 70,435 POCSO cases were carried forward from previous years and in 2016, 30,891 fresh cases came before trial courts for adjudication and hence the total number of pending cases became 1,01,326.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, considered the submission and said it would take a holistic view of the pendency of such cases and try to find out ways to deal with the problem. It sought the report from HCs within four weeks. The plea has also sought framing of guidelines to ensure that investigation and trial of cases involving rape of children below the age of 12 years, under the POSCO Act, should be completed within six months from the date of lodging of the FIR.
The POCSO Act, as said earlier, provides that such cases be decided within a year after the trial court takes cognisance of the charge sheet.
The top court also directed its Registry to communicate the order to the registrar generals of the high courts seeking a district wise detailed report on pendency of cases and posted the matter for hearing on April 20. Earlier, the Centre had told the court that an FIR has already been registered in connection with the rape of the baby and the accused cousin was in judicial custody.
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