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Fewer POCSO Act Convictions

Context

  • In cases handled by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act of 2012 in e-Courts across the nation, a think-tank analysis found that 43.44% of trials result in acquittals and only 14.03% in convictions.
  • Furthermore, in 22.9% of the 138 detailed judgements examined, the accused were familiar to the victims.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Issues related to children

Mains Question

We shouldn’t let talk of severe penalties take our focus away from the issues with the POCSO Act’s current implementation. Talk about the POCSO (Amendment) Bill 2019 here. (150 words)


Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO):

  • About: It is the country’s first comprehensive law dealing specifically with child sexual abuse, enacted in 2012, and administered by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
    • Its goal was to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornographic violations, as well as to set up Special Courts for such cases.
    • The Act was amended in 2019 to increase the penalties for certain offences in order to deter abusers and promote a dignified upbringing.
  • Important provisions:
    • Gender equality legislation: According to the Act, a child is “any person” under the age of 18.
  • Non-reporting is illegal: Anyone in charge of an institution (excluding children) who fails to report a sexual offence involving a subordinate faces punishment.
    • There is no time limit for reporting abuse: A victim may report an offence at any time, even years after it has occurred.
    • Confidentiality of the victim’s identity: The Act prohibits the disclosure of the victim’s identity in any form of media unless authorised by the Act’s special courts.
  • Concerns: o This type of abuse is on the rise, especially since the Covid-19 outbreak, when new forms of cybercrime have emerged.
    • A lack of awareness or knowledge on the part of minor girls, boys, parents, and society in general.

Key Findings

  • The Justice, Access, and Lowering Delays in India (JALDI) Initiative at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy collaborated with the World Bank’s Data Evidence for Justice Reform (DE JURE) initiative to conduct the analysis, titled “A Decade of Pocso.”
    • Furthermore, the accused in 96% of POCSO cases was a person known to the victim, according to data provided by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2021.
    • In Andhra Pradesh, acquittals were 7 times more common than convictions, and in West Bengal, they were 5 times more common.
    • However, in Kerala, the difference between acquittal and conviction is not as great.
    • With 13.54 cases per 100,000 people, Delhi had the highest number of POCSO trials in 2018.
    • The University of Pennsylvania has the most cases pending, accounting for more than three-fourths (77.77%) of all lawsuits filed between November 2012 and February 2021.
    • The police’s slow pace of investigation and the delay in depositing samples with the Forensic Science Laboratories are two major reasons for the high number of pending cases.

Way ahead

  • Educating children about the legislation and its provisions in the future.
  • Sensitization and training programmes
  • Execution of the Fast Track Special Court Scheme
  • A child protection policy based on the zero-tolerance principle for child abuse.

June 2024
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