Non-serious POCSO cases to be transferred to additional special courts

Move aimed at quick disposal of serious cases

September 27, 2022 10:43 pm | Updated September 28, 2022 04:54 pm IST - Chennai

The POCSO Committee in Tamil Nadu, in a notification issued earlier this month, has directed 16 districts which have special courts for exclusive trial of offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 to transfer non-serious cases to Mahila or fast track courts there. 

This has been done to concentrate on the quick disposal of serious POCSO offence cases, according to the notification, which is based on a resolution passed by the committee from October 2021.

In the notification, the special courts which were set up exclusively for the trial of cases under the POCSO Act in 2019 were identified as the Principal Special Courts and the existing Mahila or fast track courts have been identified as Additional Special Courts. 

The 16 districts which have these exclusive POCSO courts are Chennai, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, Kanniyakumari, Nagercoil, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Salem, Sivaganga, Thanjavur,Tiruvannamalai, Thoothukudi, Vellore, Villupuram, and Virudhunagar. Additionally, the State government had announced in 2021 that four more special courts for POCSO cases would be set up in Theni, Dindigul, Thiruvallur and Dharmapuri.

 Vidya Reddy of Tulir-Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, said that a 2021 order had already spoken about the burgeoning cases involving girls aged between 16 to 18 years eloping and getting married, and had called for the transfer of such cases in Madurai, Salem, and Tiruvannamalai to Mahila Courts from the POCSO courts. 

“The recent order has once again mentioned these three districts, and has failed to elaborate on the parameters of these ‘non-serious’ cases beyond a mention of love affairs and elopement, which is a cause  for concern. This needs to be defined properly,” she said.

She further questioned whether the Mahila Courts, which are to handle non-serious offences in these districts, will follow all the child witness enabling procedures as mandated by the POCSO Act. “There also needs to be more clarity on whether Special Public Prosecutors will be appointed to handle these cases at the Mahila Courts, as was done at POCSO Courts,” she said. 

A Supreme Court Order in 2019 had called for constituting an exclusive, designated special court in districts where there are more than 100 cases pending under the POCSO Act.

A demand to increase the number of special courts in Tamil Nadu for the exclusive trial of POCSO cases has been a long-standing one as well. As per the pendency data from e-courts on Mahila Courts operating as POCSO courts, seven districts -- Ariyalur, Erode, Krishnagiri, Namakkal, Nilgiris, Tiruchi, and Tiruppur -- all have over 100 cases pending. 

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