Day 6 Arguments: 13 August 2019

The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose briefly heard the Unnao matter, but did not pass any orders. Then, it began hearing the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) matter, where it is monitoring the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

 

Background

On 12 July, the Supreme Court on its own motion instituted a petition to monitor the implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2012 Act. Originally, the court intended to limit the scope of the matter to increasing disposal rates. However, roughly a month later the court tagged two additional cases to the original petition.

 

On 31 July, the court tagged the Unnao rape matter to the case. The Unnao matter pertains to the alleged rape of a 17-yr old girl by former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. The family of the victim wrote the Chief Justice a letter regarding the victimisation they were suffering. After the victim, her aunts and lawyer were hit by a speeding truck under suspicious circumstances, the court took note of the letter.

 

On 5 August, the court tagged National Commission for Protection of Child Rights v. Rajesh Kumar, a 2017 special leave petition. The central issue is whether child trafficking is a national matter and thus an exception to Section 13(2), which bars the National Commission from enquiring into any matter pending before a State Commission. However, the court is currently more concerned with a 4 January 2018 order issued in the case, which directs all states to report the court on whether they have appointed Special Public Prosecutors under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

 

Today's hearing

First, the bench briefly inquired whether any additional orders need to be passed in the Unnao matter. After ascertaining that it didn't have to, it emphasised that it did not want to overexpand the scope of the matter too much. It did not check on the status of the individual Unnao cases in various lower courts pertaining to the victim. It adjourned the Unnao matter until Monday, 19 August.

 

Next, the court took up the NCPCR matter. The counsel for West Bengal submitted that only some states and High Courts had filed their replies.

 

The court asked for the list of states which had failed to file a reply. For the convenience of the parties, it read page 8 of its 4 January 2018, wherein it directed all states to report whether they had appointed Special Public Prosecutors under Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

 

The following states have yet to reply to the January 2018 order: Orissa, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The court directed them to file their responses within four weeks.

 

In fact, two states still remain unrepresented by a counsel; Uttarakhand and Rajasthan. The court ordered them each to avail of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee and pay it INR 50,000 in costs. It did not impose on them any additional costs.

 

Four High Courts have also yet to file their replies.

 

The Supreme Court directed the counsels to collate all the information in charts. With this, it listed the matter for 3 September 2019.

 

The original POCSO suo moto petition is listed for 26 September 2019.