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[8 Yrs Delay In POCSO Trial] Bombay High Court Seeks Principal Judge's Explanation On Unequal Distribution Of Cases To Designated Courts

Sharmeen Hakim
6 Aug 2022 9:30 AM GMT
[8 Yrs Delay In POCSO Trial] Bombay High Court Seeks Principal Judges Explanation On Unequal Distribution Of Cases To Designated Courts

Bombay High Court has sought an explanation from the Principal Judge (PJ), City Civil and Sessions Court, Mumbai regarding the unequal distribution of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Acts to the designated courts.

Justice Bharati Dangre noted a "startling feature," that among the four functional POCSO courts at Dindoshi, court number 11 had been allotted 1,228 cases and 1,070 cases were allotted to court number 12. However, the remaining two courts were assigned merely 138 and 116 cases, each.

"The disparity in the distribution of cases is not understood. Therefore, the learned Principal Judge shall explain the same," the court observed.

The court passed the order while hearing a bail application of man accused of raping and impregnating a 14-year-old in 2016. The accused sought bail citing the eight-year delay in trial as the POCSO Act mandates investigation of POCSO cases to be completed in two months and trial to be completed within six months.

Therefore, last week, Justice Dangre sought the PJ's report on the pending POCSO cases in the city.

According to the report submitted by the PJ on July 2, 2022, there are 7 designated POCSO Courts in the City Civil Court (main branch) and six POCSO Courts at Dindoshi, out of which two courts are vacant. One of these vacant courts had 240 cases, including the present one.

The figure of pending POCSO cases is "alarming" and several accused, like the applicant seeking bail, have been waiting for the conclusion of trial against them for so many years, the court observed about the report.

Justice Dangre therefore directed the PJ to explain the unequal distribution of POCSO cases, steps taken to fill up the two vacant posts and a chart with bifurcation of cases from the date they are pending.

"…So that the reasons thereof can be ascertained and direction can be issued by this Court so that trials can be expedited," the bench observed.

The court asked the PJ for a further report analysing the causes for delay in concluding POCSO trials because of which courts are unable to adhere to mandates provided under the POCSO Act.

The court said, "One of the reasons appears to be delay in recording the statement of the victim as in the present case, statement of the victim came to be recorded after 8 years. Necessary directions are required to be issued to the Magistrates in connection with recording statement of victim immediately, as the delay at times, change the course of the trial."

As for the cases at hand, the court noted that two out of 10 witnesses had been examined. Therefore, she directed the trial court to conclude the trial within six months and granted the accused liberty to re-approach the court for bai citing pendency of trial.

The matter will now be heard on August 29, 2022 for compliance.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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