Suo Moto Case Regarding Alarming Rise In Number Of Reported Child Rape Incidents: Supreme Court Adjourns The Matter For Next Week

  • Shruti Kakkar
  • 03:50 PM, 07 Apr 2021

The Supreme Court Bench led by CJI SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna & Justice V Ramasubramanian have adjourned the suo motu writ petition registered under the caption "In Re Alarming rise in the number of reported child rape incidents" & a corresponding lack of infrastructure, delay in probe & trial of these cases for the next week. 

We’ll hear it next week”, the CJI remarked. 

ASG Aishwarya Bhati informed the Bench that as per the directions issued on the last date of hearing to protect the mother & siblings of the deceased, Mahendra, 16 people were given protection. She also informed the Bench that a report would be submitted in a sealed cover. 

In the present matter, the Bench appointed Shri V Giri as Amicus Curaie to assist the Court in formulating the directions that may be required to be issued.

The Court on March 6, 2021 directed the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India to assist the Court in order to formulate  a national scheme for payment of compensation to victims of offences under the POCSO Act.

The Division Bench on January 8, 2020 directed all the States to take steps to appoint exclusive Public Prosecutors in all the Courts which have been set up exclusively for POCSO cases. The Bench also directed the Chief Justices of all High Court to ensure that in the Judicial Academy of the State special programmes are developed so that these Special Public Prosecutors attached to POCSO Courts are imparted training not only in law but also in child psychology, child behaviour, health issues etc. Further a request was made to ensure that a training programme is developed in the National Judicial Academy to train master trainers who can then work in the Judicial Academies in each State. 

We realize that the National Judicial Academy cannot train all the Special Public Prosecutors in the country but they can prepare a team of master trainers who can travel from State to State to impart training to the persons appointed as Special Public Prosecutors.”, the Court also observed. 

The Court on December 16, 2019 laid down the parameters which were to be followed while setting up exclusive POCSO Courts which were: (i) In districts where there are more than 100 POCSO cases pending, at least one exclusive POCSO Court shall be set up; (ii) In districts having more than 300 POCSO cases pending, at least two exclusive POCSO Courts shall be set up.

On November 13, 2019, the Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Deepak Gupta & Justice Aniruddha Bose after taking into consideration the report submitted by Shri Surinder S. Rathi, Registrar of the Supreme Court to show a national analysis on the Percentage share of different types of offences under POCSO remarked that, “This report shows a shocking state of affairs. What to talk of trials, in 20% of the cases even investigation is not completed within one year. Virtually, no support persons are provided and no compensation is paid to the victims. Almost two-third of the cases are pending trial for more than one year. "

The Bench also took note of the fact that at all stages of dealing with POCSO cases commencing with the investigation up to the stage of trial, the timelines stipulated under the Act was not complied with.

In this context, the Bench also remarked, “One major reason for the inability of the stakeholders to meet the deadline stipulated under the Act, is lack of awareness and lack of dedication in completing investigation, etc. within the time frame stipulated and also inadequacy of the number of courts which has resulted in cases remaining pending beyond the period mandated for completion of trial under the Act.”

Directions were issued to the State Governments as well as the Union of India to do what is required to be done to ensure that all stages of investigation as well as trial, as contemplated under the Act, are completed within the time frame by creation of additional force for investigation. The Court also directed the Union of India and the State Governments to take steps for sensitization of officials associated with the investigation and also for creation or assignment of dedicated courts to try POCSO cases on top priority so that charge-sheets are filed within the mandatory period and trials are completed within the time frame contemplated under the Act.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Deepak Gupta & Justice Aniruddha Bose on July 25, 2019 issued the following directions to the Union of India: 

(i) In each district of the country, if there are more than 100 cases under the POCSO Act, an exclusive/designated special Court will be set up, which will try no other offence except those under the POCSO Act.

(ii) Such Courts will be set up under a Central scheme and will be funded by the Central Government, which fund will not only take care of the appointment of the Presiding Officer, but also the appointments of support persons, Special Public Prosecutors, Court staff and infrastructure including creation of child- friendly environment and vulnerable witness Court rooms, etc.

(iii) While drawing up the panel(s) of support persons in each district which should not exceed a reasonable number keeping in mind the total number of cases to be tried by the special Court to be set up in each district, care should be taken to appoint persons who are dedicated to the cause and apart from academic qualifications are oriented towards child rights; are sensitive to the needs of a child and are otherwise child friendly. The same standards would also apply in the matter of appointment of Special Public Prosecutors.

(iv) The following suggestions of the learned Amicus Curiae shall also be implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development through such agency as may be considered appropriate:-

“(e) A short clip intended to spread an awareness of the subject in general, namely, prevention of child abuse and prosecution of crimes against children, should necessarily be screened in every movie hall and could also be transmitted by various television channels at regular intervals. A child helpline number should also be displayed not only in such clips but also at various other prominent places, in schools and other public places.

The Bench took note of the fact that one of the major causes of delay in winding up the investigations and in cases where chargesheets have been filed, in winding up the trial, was delay in receipt of the reports from the Forensic Science Laboratory. 

In this context, the Amicus Curiae’s suggested for designation of Forensic Science Laboratories in every district of the country for the purposes of the POCSO Act. 

Thereafter, the Bench directed the Directors of the State Forensic Science Laboratories and the concerned authority in the State Government to ensure that the existing and available Forensic Science Laboratories in each State will function in an effective manner insofar as analysis etc. of the samples collected under the POCSO Act are concerned and reports of such analysis be sent promptly and without any delay.  Also, the Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories were directed to ensure that the above directions of the Court are complied with forthwith.

Ld Amicus Curiae on July 15,2019 submitted that there was a need to strictly implement the provisions of the POCSO Act at all stages commencing from the stage of investigation & different facets of the trial. 

On July 7, 2019, the full Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Deepak Gupta & Justice Aniruddha Bose directed to make state wise statement & collective data placed before the Court to be made available to Amicus Curiae Shri V Giri.

Case Title: In Re Alarming Rise In The Number Of Reported Child Rape Incidents| SMW(Crl) No. 1/2019