SC startled by delay in child rape cases

“Putting up cartoons on the walls of the courtroom will not make it child-friendly... It is ultimately the attitude of the judge that should change,” Justice Deepak Gupta said on Monday.

The Supreme Court judge is accompanying Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on the Bench hearing a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) petition.

The PIL petition was launched by the Supreme Court itself after startling statistics it collected showed that as many as 24,000 child rape cases had been registered between January and June this year.

The court wondered how there was an inexplicable delay in giving justice to children subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation despite the enactment of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Identifying handicaps

The court is trying to identify the handicaps facing law enforcement and trial proceedings.

The Act calls for exclusive courts, devoted public prosecutors, special forensic department, child-friendly courts and sensitised judges and court staffers to create a conducive atmosphere for children to testify without fear.

The CJI, referring to a report prepared by the Supreme Court which has become the basis of this suo motu petition, orally said 796 child rape cases were registered in the past six months (January and June 2019) in Delhi alone.

But only two had been disposed of. “If this is the case with the national capital, what will be the situation in other parts [of the country]?” the CJI asked amicus curiae and senior advocate V. Giri.

In fact, the court report said trial could be completed in only 900 of 24,000 cases across the country from January to June.

The Bench asked Mr. Giri to prepare a detailed report suggesting ways for speedy investigation and trial of child rape cases.

The government, represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, also intervened with an assurance to assist the court in the endeavour.

The Bench had last week directed the court registry to register the case as a writ petition titled “In-re Alarming Rise in The Number of Reported Child Rape Incidents.”

Referring to the data on sexual crimes against children, the court’s report said that 24,212 FIRs were filed across India from January 1 to June 30 this year. \

Under investigation

Of these, 11,981 were still being probed by the police. Charge sheets had been filed in 12,231 cases, though trials had commenced only in 6,449 cases.

The trial courts had till now decided 911 cases — that is, about 4% of the total cases registered.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 10:16:43 PM |

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