Chief Justice of India Justice P. Sathasivam on Saturday suggested a periodic review of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act’s implementation and effectiveness.

Based on the exercise, the government should seek appropriate amendments in consonance with women and children’s rights enshrined in the Constitution and other international documents.

Southern Regional Conference

He was inaugurating the Southern Regional Conference on “POCSO Act,” jointly organised by the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy and the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development here.

The CJI said the police had a crucial role to play in combating child sexual abuse as they were the first point of contact for anyone initiating a criminal case.

It is desired that the sensitivities required for this role which are recognised in the legislation, are adhered to in letter and spirit.

He said execution of various child protection schemes should be prioritised.

Funds

It should be ensured that the States correctly employed the funds allocated to them to create effective child welfare facilities.

Members of the judiciary could richly contribute towards strengthening the implementation of the law. Mr. Justice Sathasivam said investigating officers and judicial officers should try to avoid repeating interviews of the victims.

Videotaping the interviews was permitted in law. It had the benefit of reducing the trauma on the child victim by limiting the number of interviews.

Also, videotaping helped increase the reliability of their statements. Judicial officers should set a child-friendly atmosphere while recording evidence and give frequent breaks to the child victim.

They should also ensure that the victims were not called repeatedly to testify.

On child sexual abuse via the internet, the CJI said he was convinced that a better regulated internet service could be created where people did not have to choose between educational, safety or fun.

“We can all have all three of these aspects if we accept the idea that protecting children is a shared responsibility.” Madras HC Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal said that in situations of violence against children, it was not the child which should be taught.

“It is the adults who have to be taught the value of a child.”

Professionals should develop ways to make sure that the child witnesses gave evidence freely by ensuring that specialists or family members were with the child during its testimony, he said.

Correction

A minor heading change was made in this article on November 18, 2013

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