Delay in trial of POCSO cases will not entitle accused to bail: HC

The accused booked under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, cannot get benefit of release on bail if trial courts are unable to record evidence of the victim-child within 30 days or complete the trial within one year from the date of taking cognisance of offences, the High Court of Karnataka has held.

Other directions
  • Set up requisite number of special courts to try cases under the POCSO Act
  • Provide infrastructure and manpower for special courts
  • Appoint exclusively trained prosecutors to handle POCSO cases
  • Appoint adequate support persons for victims
  • Conduct a study on how support persons are discharging duties

“The object and purpose of Section 35 of the POCSO Act is to ensure that the victim-child is secured from the trauma of trial of the case at the earliest so that she or he could be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society at the earliest. The said provision is not to be interpreted in favour of the accused so as to mandate release of the accused,” the court said while interpreting the law.

The court issued a series of directions to the State government for effective implementation of the Act and for welfare of child victims.

A Division Bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice M.G. Uma delivered the verdict while answering the reference made by a judge on whether delay in recording of evidence of victim and completion of trial could result in favour of accused for enlargement on bail.

“In our view, non-compliance of Section 35 of the POCSO Act cannot be the basis for releasing the accused on bail as that would be a misreading of the provision,” the Bench said.

The Bench pointed out that one has to bear in mind the fact that the docket explosion under the POCSO Act is not commensurate with sufficient number of special courts being constituted with the requisite human resources as well as infrastructure.

“It may be practically impossible for the trial court to conclude the trial within one year from the date of cognisance by the said court in a majority of the cases. But, that does not give a right to the accused to seek bail for the reason...,” the Bench observed.

Dedicated units

The Bench also directed the government that a dedicated unit had to be set up in every district hospital to attend to the victim and provide proper medical facility.

The assistance of mental health professionals should be provided to every child victim to overcome trauma, and their rehabilitation and reintegration should be done at the government’s cost, the Bench said.

Directing judges of trial courts to ensure compliance to the deadline fixed in the POCSO Act, the court said they should ensure that “justice delivery system does not in any way contribute to the trauma, mental disturbance and anxiety of the victim-child, which could lead to severe impact on the behaviour and personality of the child”.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:37:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/delay-in-trial-of-pocso-cases-will-not-entitle-accused-to-bail-hc/article34510364.ece

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