More Than 90% of Cases Registered Under POCSO Act Remain Pending
As per the NCRB records, more than 90,000 cases registered under POCSO were pending at the end of 2016
The government issued an ordinance the other day amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) act. The ordinance seeks to enhance the quantum of punishment for perpetrators of sexual crimes against children in addition to imposing new timelines for investigation and trial of such cases.
As per the NCRB records, more than 90,000 cases registered under POCSO were pending at the end of 2016. In that year, trial was complete in only 10,884 such cases with a conviction rate of 29.6%, much less than the conviction rate of all IPC crimes.
More Than 30,000 Cases Being Registered Under POCSO
Every year, more than 30,000 cases are being registered under various sections of POCSO with majority of them being child rape incidents. In 2014, out of the 34,449 cases registered under POCSO, 13,766 were cases of child rape (40% of all the cases).
In 2015, 10,854 child rape cases were reported out of the total 34,505 cases registered under POCSO. In 2016, cases of child rape accounted for a whopping 55% of all the cases registered under POCSO.
In each of these years, the number of cases in which trials were completed was around 10,000. Trials were completed in 7,487 cases in 2014, 10,498 cases in 2015 and 10,884 cases in 2016.
Huge Pendency & Relatively Low Conviction Rate
Even in those cases in which trials were complete, the conviction rate under POCSO was much less than the overall conviction rate in case of all IPC crimes. In 2014, it was 30.4% against 45.1% for all IPC crimes.
In 2015, the conviction rate of cases under POCSO improved to 36.3% against 46.9% for all IPC crimes. In 2016, the conviction rate in cases registered under POCSO was down to 29.6% while it remained at 46.8% for all IPC crimes.
The low conviction rate is coupled with a high pendency of cases. By the end of 2016, more than 90,000 cases registered under POCSO were pending for trial. At the current pace, it is going to take many years before the pending cases are cleared.
What Does the Ordinance Seek to Do?
The ordinance enhances the punishment for rape of a child under 12 years of age to a minimum of 20 years which may extend to life imprisonment and even death. In the case of gang rape, the minimum punishment is life imprisonment which may extend to death penalty. The ordinance also seeks to set a timeline of 2 months for completion of investigation and two months for trial.
Will These Changes Help?
The changes proposed in the ordinance have to be complemented by reforms and efficiency both in the police & the lower judiciary.
Additionally, more than 20% of the posts are vacant in the lower judiciary. Unless there is a concerted effort by the Central & state governments to address these issues, there may not be significant improvement in the situation.
(The copy was first published on Factly and has been republished in an arrangement.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit send.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.