Supreme Court recently issued a slew of directions to the High Courts in order to ensure that all trials under the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act are served with time-bound justice. The High Courts have been directed to set up dedicated, child-friendly special courts for the trial of sexual assault cases.
A three-judge bench led by Justice Dipak Misra ordered the High Court Chief Justices to set up a committee of three judges that would ensure such cases stay on fast track. The POSCO Act makes it mandatory for all investigations to be completed in two months and an appeal must be decided in 6 months.
The court was acting on a PIL filed by Alok Srivastava that demanded speed up the process of trial of accused in cases included under POSCO Act. The petitioner revealed statistics that showed a large pendency of all such cases in all the states from 89% to 95%. He reportedly approached the apex court after an 8-month-old baby allegedly raped by his 28-year-old cousin in northwest Delhi.
The bench directed the High Courts to set up special courts that will not allow unnecessary adjournments. Moreover, the state DGPs were asked to set up a special task force in every state to complete the investigation on time and produce the witnesses in the court. All the rape cases under of minors will now be fast-tracked and will be decided by special courts to ensure time-bound justice.
Amidst the series of horrific events of child rapes and murders, the Centre had passed an ordinance declaring capital punishment for all child rapists. This ordinance made rape a punishable offense with a death penalty for rapists of children aged 12 or younger.