The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, has been on India’s statute books for a decade. One of the primary purposes of the act was to provide speedy justice to child victims of sexual offences in a child-friendly manner.
The law provides that a POCSO trial should be completed within one year from the special court taking cognisance of the offence.
It also states that the evidence of the victim should be recorded within 30 days of such cognisance.
However, the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has found out that there are considerable gaps between what the law prescribes and ground reality and has taken cognisance of the same.
The Goa SCPCR notes with regret the gross insensitivity towards minor sexual assault survivors, who wait for hours for medico-legal care, which only intensifies their trauma.
The slow pace of investigation and the delay in depositing samples with the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and not enough centres for comprehensive medico-legal care are the loopholes that need to be sealed.
Peter F Borges, Chairperson of Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights
Further, there is also a need for a proper system to address mental health concerns, an important aspect of the trauma associated with sexual assault, at every centre.
“A timely and thorough investigation and timely filing of charge sheets are the most crucial elements of the justice delivery system, demanding a good coordination between the medical establishments, law enforcement agencies and prosecution,” says Peter F Borges, the chairperson of Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
In view of this, the Commission recommends that adequate arrangements be made at North Goa District Hospital and Sub District Hospital at Ponda, with the availability of female gynaecologists and personnel for psychosocial care, to deliver medico-legal care for minor victims of sexual assault.
It also recommends that a circular be issued by the Director General of Police to ensure quick access to medico-legal care for the victims and the deposit of samples with the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).