After witnessing the high rate of pendency of child sexual assault cases, the Supreme Court on May 1, 2018 issued a slew of directions to all the High Courts regarding speedy trial in sexual assault cases involving children under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, directed the High Courts to ensure that sexual assault cases involving children are fast-tracked and decided by special courts.
The apex court also asked the high courts to instruct trial courts not to grant unnecessary adjournments during trial of cases. High Courts may constitute a committee of three judges to regulate and monitor the trials of sexual assault cases of children.
Directions issued by Supreme Court
• The State police chiefs should constitute special task forces to investigate cases.
• High Courts should ensure that the cases are tried and disposed off by the designated Special Courts under the POSCO Act, 2012.
• POCSO judges to give no adjournments and make every effort to fast-track trial.
• Witnesses should be produced in court on the day of the hearing.
• High courts should make every effort to provide a child-friendly atmosphere as per the POSCO Act.
• The Director General of Police (DGPs) or police officer of same rank of all states and UTs shall ensure that probes in POCSO cases were conducted expeditiously and the witnesses are produced in the courts for recording of testimonies.
The apex court gave the above directions while hearing the PIL filed by AlakhAlok Srivastava in a case relating to the brutal rape of 8-month-old child by her 28-year-old cousin on January 28, 2018 in a locality near Netaji Subhash Place in north-west Delhi.
The 8-month-old had developed health conditions and had undergone emergency corrective surgeries. The PIL sought reliefs like proper medical care of the victim at AIIMS and award of Rs 10 lakh as interim compensation.
It also sought provision of death penalty in such cases and framing of guidelines for speedy trial of cases involving rape of children below 12 years of age under POSCO Act, 2012.
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