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SC asks HCs to appoint independent prosecutors in POCSO courts

Saturday, Apr 8, 2017,11:52 IST By anju A A A

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Friday directed various high courts to initiate steps for appointing independent public prosecutors for POCSO courts meant for trial of sexual offence cases against children.

Terming the issue as “extremely important and significant”, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also directed the Delhi High Court to dispose of the petition pending before it for appointment of independent public prosecutors in the national capital.

“We are satisfied that the issue at hand is extremely important and significant and calls for immediate attention.

We request the Delhi High Court to dispose of the pending plea on the issue expeditiously,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said.

The bench after perusing the affidavit filed by the Centre and the Delhi government before the high court said the Chief Justices of high courts should take up the matter suo motu and ensure that independent public prosecutors are appointed.

“On perusal of the affidavits we find that several states have not appointed independent public prosecutors including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Haryana, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Kerala, Meghalaya and union territories of Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“We consider it appropriate to require the registry of this court to communicate to registrar of the high courts concerned the decision of this court for implementation of section 32 of POCSO Act for appointment of independent public prosecutors,” the bench said.

The bench, which was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, also directed the high courts concerned to create necessary infrastructure in such Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) courts so that a “child friendly atmosphere” could be provided to the victims under section 33 of the Act.

Bansal, in his plea, said it was evident from the website of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights that only 604 special courts have been constituted by the states in 675 districts, meaning thereby that around 13 states having 71 districts have no special court under POCSO ACT which mandated at least one court in each district.

Bansal argued that a total of 19,767 children were sexually assaulted during 2015, as per the figures of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The crime rate reported under crime against children per 1,00,000 children was observed as 21.1 at all India level during 2015.

He said that the crime rate was the highest in Delhi (169.4), followed by Andaman & Nicobar Island (75.0), Chandigarh (67.8), Mizoram (50.1) and Goa (46.5) against the national average of 21.1.