[Answered] There needs to be a review of the way the POCSO Act has been implemented, as there are imperfections despite its impact. Discuss

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain some imperfections of POCSO Act. Also write its significance.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The aim of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), 2012 is to address offences of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, which were either not specifically defined or in adequately penalised.

Imperfections of POCSO Act:

  • Issue of age determination: Age estimation based on medical opinion is generally so wide in scope that in most cases minors are proved to be major.
  • At the Trial Stage: The challenges at this stage include: (a)Lack of Special Courts in all districts; (b) Lack of Special Public Prosecutors for Special Courts; (c) Non-compliance with the timelines prescribed by the Act.
  • Inadequate Training of Various Stakeholders: e.g. Private medical practitioners are usually the first point of contact for child victims but no mandatory training is provided.
  • The POCSO Act provides for recording the statement by a woman sub-inspector. But it is practically impossible when the number of women in the police force is just 10%.
  • In the absence of proper infrastructure to ensure the integrity of electronic evidence, the admissibility of evidence recorded using any audio-video means will always remain a challenge.
  • There are instances where the banned two-finger test is still in use.
  • There have been no attempts to upgrade the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in States. Many cases have a charge sheet without an accompanying FSL report, which is then decided by courts.

Significance of POCSO Act:

  • The Act providesfor immediate relief at the filing of the case. The compensation amount can change, based on the need of the victim. For example, the Act does not define the outer limit. The Judges can include Child’s educational need, medical needs including trauma compensation while deciding the compensation amount.
  • The Act is Gender-neutral and Child friendly. The Act defines Child as any person below 18 years of age. Apart from that, the Act includes various safeguards for the child, like protecting the identity, avoiding victimization etc.
  • The Act has led to increased number of cases filed, and also translated to an increase in the higher rate of conviction.

The recommendations provided by the Vidhi Centre are worthwhile which, if implemented, can go a long way in addressing the issues with the functioning of the POCSO Act.

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