Supreme Court Directs HC Registrars To Give The Details Of District Wise Pendency Of POCSO Cases
The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar on Monday directed the Registrars General of all High Courts to give intimation to the registry of the apex court of the district wise pendency of the cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012, along with the status.
The bench was hearing a PIL instituted in the light of the unfortunate incident of the sexual assault on an eight months old infant by her 28 years old cousin in Delhi in January.
The bench also requested the concerned Chief Justices of the High Courts to forward suggestions in the light of the rate of pendency as high as 95% in 2016, as submitted by the petitioner-in-person Alakh Alok Srivastava.
ASG Pinky Anand submitted before the bench that the POCSO Act, in its section 35, envisages the disposal of cases within year of the date of cognizance.Further, The ASG assured the bench that based on statistics of the petitioner, the Centre is also deliberating on suggestions.At the previous hearing, the bench had directed The petitioner in-person to file a chart containing data with regard to the cases pending at various places so that this Court can take a holistic view of the matter. The petitioner was also required to indicate in the chart the reasons for delayed disposal of the proceedings initiated under the POCSO Act.
The apex court had also directed the Additional Solicitors General to apprise this Court as to what should be the appropriate time limit for the disposal of the cases under the POCSO Act regard being had to the various degrees of offences provided under the Act and the gravity of the offences, for the victim is a child.The bench on Monday observed that many cases are pending under the Act of 2012 and that statutory timeline is not being followed.At the commencement of the hearing, Chief Justice Misra inquired about the health of the infant and was informed that she was discharged from AIIMS, New Delhi on February 14 and that another surgery is scheduled for April 17.
However, the bench on Monday refused to entertain the prayer of the petitioner seeking the death penalty in such types of heinous and brutal offences where the victim is below 10 years of age. “Do not cross your limits”, the Chief Justice admonished. It may be noted that The POCSO Act stipulates a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
It is worth mentioning that while dealing with a similar heart-wrenching case of rape of a 28-days old baby girl, the apex court had recently held in – Supreme Court Women Lawyers’ Association Vs. Union of India & Ors. (2016) as follows –
“This Court cannot provide a higher punishment. It can only suggest to the Legislature. We are absolutely conscious that IPC provides punishment for the offence of rape. There can be no doubt that a girl child is a minor but may be a time has come where a distinction can be drawn between the girl children and the minor, may be by fixing the upper limit at 10 for the girl children. We are disposed to think so as by that age, a child, a glorious gift to mankind, cannot conceive of any kind of carnal desire in man. Once she becomes a victim of such a crime, there is disastrous effect on her mind. The mental agony lasts long. Sorrow and fear haunt forever. There is need to take steps for stopping this kind of child abuse and hence, possibly there is a need for defining the term “child” in the context of rape and thereafter provide for more severe punishment in respect of the culprits who are involved in this type of crime. In the light of the said decision, we part with the suggestion with the fond hope that Parliament would respond to the agony of the collective, for it really deserves consideration. We say no more on this score.”