99% POCSO circumstances in courts pending trial in 2020: Praja report

While there was a dip in crimes in opposition to youngsters in Delhi in 2020, the pendency of such circumstances in courts is at an all-time excessive as judgments have been handed in just one% of the circumstances, as per a report by the Praja Foundation.

Data launched by the inspiration reveals an enormous pendency in circumstances beneath the IPC, Special and Local Laws, crimes in opposition to ladies, and crimes in opposition to youngsters within the metropolis. A complete of 16,667 circumstances of crimes in opposition to youngsters (CAC) had been earlier than courts final yr of which 99% are pending trial, as per knowledge until December 2020.

Special courts had been set as much as cope with heinous crimes in opposition to youngsters, deal with POCSO circumstances, and get rid of them inside a yr. However, greater than 77% of POCSO circumstances at Delhi courts take 1-Three years to finish trial whereas over 16% of circumstances take as much as 5 years for a judgment, knowledge reveals.

Lawyers say digital courts arrange through the pandemic and unorganised police-court mechanism could also be behind the delay.

Deeksha Dwivedi, a legal lawyer, advised The Indian Express, “We have designated sessions courts to deal with POCSO cases, but a majority of these cases are complex. The evidence is very difficult to gather, and police aren’t sensitised enough to deal with victims and even the accused… Also, judges who deal with these cases are overburdened which leads to longer trials despite the POCSO Act stating that trials should end in a year.”

Supreme Court lawyer and senior Advocate Rebecca John added, “The pandemic has given rise to a huge pendency… much worse than what it was earlier. There’s been a delay because only those matters were taken up which could be dealt with in virtual courts. Cases where evidence had to be recorded could not be taken up virtually and most trials were held up. In POCSO cases, the courts have now started to take up matters as they have opened for physical hearings.”

As per Delhi Police knowledge, 1,197 circumstances had been registered in 2020 — a 30% dip in comparison with 2019 when over 1,719 circumstances had been lodged. However, knowledge from Praja reveals that there’s a huge delay in investigation. In greater than half the POCSO circumstances, investigation takes greater than 90-120 days to be accomplished. As per knowledge, 56% of CAC circumstances lodged in 2020 await investigation whereas chargesheets have been filed in solely 36% of circumstances.

Chinmoy Biswal, Delhi Police spokesperson, stated, “In Delhi, we register CAC and POCSO cases promptly and take the deadline of 60 days (POCSO) very seriously. A majority of the 56% pending cases last year have been chargesheeted and moved to court. Understandably, there will always be cases under investigation… We have higher chargesheeting rate (99.06%) than all-India (94.7%) or metro cities (96.8%), with much higher conviction rate (80%) than Metro cities (42.4%) or all-India (39.6%) average. Also, a major component in crimes against children is missing children’s cases. We strictly and promptly register these cases under sections of kidnapping.”