Despite a dip in crimes against children, the trial of 99 per cent of cases under the POCSO Act were still pending by December 2020, a Praja Foundation report said on Thursday.
According to the foundation data, in 94 per cent of the total 1,197 cases under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences lodged in 2020, the victims were girls with the highest number of 721 rape cases and 376 sexual assault cases. The report pointed out that while POCSO Act was enacted with the sole purpose of providing speedy justice to minors, the trial of 99 per cent of cases of crimes against children was pending as of December 2020.
According to the data, 42 per cent of the total rape cases were committed against children below 18 years in 2020, compared to 47 per cent in 2018 and 45 per cent in 2019. The data showed the highest number of rape victims were in the age group of 12 to 18 years (620 out of 721 in 2020) and that in 95 per cent of these rape cases under the POCSO Act, offenders were known to victims. The data highlighted that out of the 67 cases under the POCSO Act against boys, 93 per cent were unnatural offences.
The low proportion of reported male cases to the total cases also reflects the stigma attached to the reporting of sexual crime against males. In its report, the Praja foundation claimed in 2020, of the total IPC cases investigated, the charge sheet was filed only in 28 per cent cases while the investigation in 58 per cent cases of crime against women and 56 per cent of crimes against children were incomplete.
The report pointed out a 20 per cent shortage of police sub-inspectors, responsible for investigating cases as of March 2021 Out of 3,32,274 IPC cases to be tried in Delhi courts, the trial of 92 per cent of cases was pending as of December 2020, reflecting an overburdened judiciary leading to the delayed justice for victims. The trial of 99 per cent of cases of crime against children was pending as of December 2020, it stated.
When contacted Delhi Police Spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said, “In Delhi, we register crime against children and POCSO cases promptly and take a deadline of 60 days under POCSO Act for investigation very seriously. A majority of the 56 per cent pending cases last year has been charge-sheeted and moved to court.”
“Understandably there will always be cases under investigation, upon completion of which these are sent to courts. Pending investigation means cases are in the process of investigation and charge sheeting," he added.
"POCSO cases and crime against children remain are our top priority,” he asserted. “We have a higher charge-sheeting rate of 99.06 per cent than the all India rate of 94.7 per cent or metro cities rate of 96.8 per cent in POCSO cases,” Biswal said. We also have a much higher conviction rate of 80 per cent than that of metro cities -- 42.4 per cent -- and an all-India rate of 39.6 per cent,” he added.
-With PTI Inputs