Even though the capital has one of the highest rates of cases of sexual assault on minors, including rape, AAP government still remains to be in denial when it comes to handling such cases and ensuring speedy justice.
The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act under section 32 makes it mandatory for the State government to appoint special public prosecutors (SPPs), who can handle cases registered under this Act only. However AAP government doesn’t feel the necessity of such rather have appointed already existing additional public prosecutors as SPPs for POCSO cases.
In the recent light of event, the number of POCSO cases has continued to rise, but State resources available to handle these cases have continued to fail and as a result there is a huge backlog of POCSO cases as the public prosecutors are overburdened.
Retired High Court judge Justice S.N. Dhingra pointed to extreme shortage of public prosecutors as a reason for delay in disposal of sexual offence cases despite existence of fast-track courts.
Recently, Delhi High Court asked the AAP government to get data on implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in other states in the context of pendency of such cases and the number of prosecutors dealing with them.
It also called for a report from designated special courts regarding pendency of cases under the Act, data of cases completed since 2012 and whether the public prosecutors attached to each of these courts were able to cope with the number of cases.
Advocate and activist Gaurav Bansal has contended that looking at the number of cases under the POCSO Act as well as other Acts in each of the special courts, completion of trial within the stipulated time was not possible if more independent special public prosecutors were not appointed.
Bansal has alleged in his petition that the government has not appointed Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) to handle the POCSO cases and instead, powers of SPPs have been conferred on Additional Public Prosecutors (APPs) to deal with the cases pending in courts set up under the POCSO Act.
The Centre submitted a letter on court on April 16, 2015, to which The Delhi government assured the court that since the matter had been clarified, an appropriate notification would be issued within four weeks. However, no progress in the matter have been made till date.
In fact, it has been over a year since then and instead of appointing SPPs, the government has authorized existing public prosecutors to handle POCSO cases.