Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Nirbhaya Cell gets legal desk

Representational image. | File  

The Women and Child Development Department is starting a legal desk in the State Nirbhaya Cell for coordinating legal activities relating to sexual crimes against women and children in the State.

The legal desk will be manned by a State legal counsellor who will be a lawyer with over 10 years’ experience and be familiar with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The legal counsellor will be assisted by a data entry operator.

Department officials say 379 women and children reside in the 16 Nirbhaya women and children’s homes in the State, with a majority of them being under the age of 18. Since their cases are under trial in courts, the legal desk will monitor these, see how much progress has been made, and intervene if there any hurdles in the prosecution of the cases.

The desk will provide legal support right from the time of registration of cases after an incident and its investigation to expediting court hearings and securing maximum punishment for the accused.

Complicit mother

They cite the case of a minor whose mother was complicit in her sexual abuse by many people.

During the trial, it was decided that the child would be released into the custody of her grandmother in her best interests. However, this could leave the girl vulnerable to influence by her mother, even changing the direction of the case. In such cases, the legal desk can intervene immediately and support the government to go in appeal against the court’s decision.

The legal desk is also expected to help with the victim compensation scheme and coordinate with the State and district legal services authority, paralegal volunteers, law colleges, and the Sakhi one-stop centre for women and children in distress to ensure that counselling and legal help is available to the survivors.

Officials say often, the details of a case or a copy of the FIR do not reach the hands of the home authorities. However, without these, a proper rehabilitation for the survivor cannot be worked out, be it counselling or therapy.

Potency test

There may be cases where the medical examination of the survivor would have been done but the potency test or DNA test of the accused would not have been carried out, thus delaying the trial.

Having all details pertaining to a case can prevent a survivor from having the recount the incident repeatedly during the preparation of their individual case plan for rehabilitation. The legal desk, they say, can help address such issues.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 2:25:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/nirbhaya-cell-gets-legal-desk/article30756192.ece

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