Across India, 1.5 lakh child rape cases pending

By Sumit Saxena

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) In a shocking revelation, the Supreme Court was informed on Thursday that 150,332 child rape cases are pending and the disposal rate is mere 9 per cent in the country as on June 30. The victims await a child-friendly justice delivery system.

Seven years from its enactment, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is yet to see a data management system or MIS to diligently crunch and segregate data as per category assigned.

Despite the magnitude of the problem, the Centre and state governments have not configured a mechanism to map out child rape cases.

"We are beginning to develop a blueprint of data management system to streamline data in POCSO cases. It will enable us to have the exact number of cases and progress made on trial," said a source from the justice department.

Moreover, judges assigned to conduct trial of child rape cases were burdened with other cases.

During the hearing on the matter on Thursday, the apex court was informed that at one stage the POCSO court in Patiala House was conducting trials for both child rape and MCOCA cases.

"The exclusivity of POCSO courts is the need of the hour in the background of 1.5 lakh cases. In the absence of data management system, it is extremely difficult to collect, collate and analyze data, which impedes the judicial system to fast-track such cases", said a source familiar with the developments.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: "The country has more cases than judges."

The Chief Justice was informed that the justice delivery system in POCSO cases was marred and facing several discrepancies in the areas of exclusive forensics laboratories, special child friendly courtroom, sensitization of judges and staff to treat victims with compassion and special officers for children in courtroom.

"On many occasions, victims turn hostile. The factors are poor infrastructure of courtroom, absence of child-friendly officers, time consumed in the trial," said a source familiar with the trials under POCSO Act.

Therefore, amid an alarming rise in the number of child rape cases, the administration of the criminal justice system was in tatters.

The court had registered the PIL plea under the title "In-re Alarming Rise in The Number of Reported Child Rape Incidents."

The PIL plea was instituted following the court's own report that showed that from January 1 to June 30 this year, 24,212 FIRs were filed across India.

On July 15, the top court directed the authorities concerned to collect district-wise data on child rape cases in the country.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at sumit.s@ians.in)

--IANS

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