No dedicated court for POCSO cases
NEW DELHI: An RTI reply has revealed that there is no designated court in Delhi to exclusively try offences against children under the POCSO Act.
The reply, furnished in response to an RTI query by advocate Gaurav Bansal and now part of court records in Delhi high court, reveals that special courts set up to try crimes against children under POCSO are burdened with cases of human rights violations and cases under SEBI, MCOCA and TADA. “As per office records the court of ASJ-01 is functioning as children court/human rights court/drugs & cosmetics acts 1940/ POCSO Act/SEBI/TADA/POTA/MCOCA,” the reply states.
TOI has also accessed a letter written last year by a POCSO special judge to the court administration on the same issue. The letter, made public recently, points out that “many children come to court daily for deposition. It is not conducive and advisable to expose children to MCOCA accused who are brought to court in handcuffs and fetters,” the letter by a Rohini additional sessions judge states.
The judge adds that offences against women and children are increasing day by day. “Voices are being raised in society to expedite such cases…vast number of cases under POCSO pertain to rape which are very time consuming,” the judge explains, arguing that if other offences are also to be heard by the same court, mandate of the POCSO Act gets violated.
Sections 35 of the Act makes it mandatory for a special POCSO court to record evidence of child victims within 30 days of taking cognizance and dispose it within one year. In his letter, the sessions judge wonders how the deadline be adhered to if other cases are to be also decided by the special court. “Soon a day will come when we will need at least two designated courts in each district to deal with cases under POCSO Act.”
This is not the first time the need for dedicated courts for POCSO has reached HC. Bansal had filed a PIL last year questioning why the state government conferred powers of special public prosecutors of POCSO on each additional public prosecutor attached with sessions courts. It also urged HC to ensure POCSO courts don’t take up other cases, thereby delaying justice to children.
Earlier, the court had on Bansal’s plea directed that the government appoint independent special public prosecutors in each complex.