Over 243,000 Pocso cases pending in fast-track courts till Jan 2023: Report

According to a research paper published by an NGO, as of January 31 this year, more than 2.43 lakh cases under the POCSO Act were pending in fast-track special courts (FTSCs) despite the robust policies and financial commitment of the center government.

In 2022, the number of such cases leading to a conviction remained at just three percent nationally, the report said.

The research paper – 'Justice Awaits: An Analysis of the Efficacy of Justice Delivery Mechanisms in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse in India' – released by the India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) states that even if no new cases are added to the list , the country will need at least nine years to close this gap.

In some states, such as Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar, pending cases may take more than 25 years to complete.

The article's findings cast a major question mark on the effectiveness of the country's justice system, despite the central government's landmark 2019 decision to set up fast-track special courts to provide justice to victims of child sexual abuse and despite the fact that the government is pumping millions of dollars into it. rupees every year to ensure justice for every child.

The document further states that given the current scenario, while Arunachal Pradesh would take 30 years from January 2023 to complete the trials of cases pending under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, Delhi 27 years will last, West Bengal 25 years. , Meghalaya 21, Bihar 26 and Uttar Pradesh 22 years to clear the backlog.

The fast-track courts established in 2019 were supposed to provide the legal mandate for the completion of adjudication of such cases within a year, but of the total 2,68,038 cases pending trial, only 8,909 cases resulted in conviction. .

The central government recently approved the continuation of FTSCs as a centrally sponsored scheme till 2026 with a budgetary allocation of over Rs 1,900 crore.

The study highlights that each FTSC in the country handles an average of only 28 cases per year, which means the expenditure for one conviction is around Rs 9 lakh.

The report is based on data from the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Crime Records Bureau.

“Each FTSC was expected to handle 41 to 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 scheme's launch,” the paper said. .

Citing the Supreme Court judgment, the report further stated that child marriage is child rape and according to the 2011 Census, as many as 4,442 minor girls were married every day, meaning that three children were forced into child marriage every minute. However, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau, only three child marriages are reported every day.

ICPF founder Bhuwan Ribhu emphasized that despite having robust policies, strict laws and ample financial commitment, the minuscule number of convictions is a matter of grave concern, saying: “The spirit of the law must be translated into justice for every child. cannot be a legal deterrent if only three percent of people accused of sex crimes against children are convicted.”

“To protect all children, it is imperative to ensure the protection of children and their families, access to rehabilitation and compensation, and time-bound legal proceedings, including trial in the lower courts and subsequent appeals to the high courts and the Supreme Court. ” he said.

To address the backlog and ensure that victims of child sexual abuse receive timely and child-friendly justice, the India Child Protection Fund has recommended that all FTSCs should be operational and there should be a robust framework for output-based monitoring of their functioning.

The document recommends that the entire FTSC staff, from police personnel to judges, should be attached exclusively to these courts so that they can deal with these cases on a priority basis. It also recommended setting up more FTSCs to clear the backlog of cases and putting the dashboard of the FTSCs in the public domain for transparency.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)