Day 17 Arguments: 08 January 2020
Today, the Bench consisting of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose directed the appointment of exclusive Public Prosecutors (PPs) in all POCSO Act cases and also laid down the training which needs to be imparted to them. Prior to addressing this issue, the Bench took stock of the progress made by the State of Assam and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in setting up POCSO courts.
As may be recalled, the Bench is examining the readiness of the States in effectively implementing the POCSO Act.
J&K directed to file affidavit
In the last hearing, keeping in mind the “peculiar situation” in J&K, the Bench had directed the Union Territory to file a fresh affidavit indicating the progress in setting up exclusive POCSO Courts. Upon enquiring with the counsel for J&K, the Bench discovered that no exclusive courts had been set up till now. Moreover, the UT is yet to file an affidavit in this regard. In light of this, the Bench ordered that an affidavit setting out the list of pending POCSO cases be filed before March 24, 2020.
The Bench also noted that the State of Assam had filed an affidavit indicating that 10 exclusive POCSO Courts had already been established, with 3 new ones in the pipeline. Similarly, 5 courts had been earmarked to exclusively deal with POCSO cases. In this regard, the Bench directed the Registrar of the Assam High Court and the State Government of Assam to file affidavits stating that these courts will indeed be exclusively catering to POCSO cases.
Exclusive Public Prosecutors to be given non-legal training
The Bench then took up the issue of having exclusive PPs to prosecute those accused under the POCSO Act. It pointed out that Section 32(1) of POCSO Act specifically lays down the obligation to appoint excusive PPs and that it had alerted all the State Governments to this requirement, in its July 2019 Order. The Bench then went on to add that such PPs should not just be trained in law but should also have expertise to deal with child victims and witnesses. Towards this, it observed that the PPs will need to be trained in child psychology and be able to bring out truth without further victimization of the affected children.
In order to achieve these objectives, it was directed that Chairpersons of Judicial Academies in the States should develop special courses where relevant training can be imparted. In case this was not possible, the Bench indicated that the Director of Judicial Training Academy may develop an appropriate training program and pave way for master trainers, who in turn can impart training to the PPs.
Finally, the Court requested the Registrar Generals of the High Court and the Registrar of National Judicial Academy to file their responses to the above suggestion.
With this, the Bench adjourned the matter for the day. It is now expected to take up the issue of Forensic Laboratories on March 6.