Matters on ground remain the same despite implementation of Sexual Offences Act, 2012

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Real News Intl., New Delhi: The much publicized Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 came into force on November 14th, 2012. At the time of implementation of the Act, Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt. Krishna Tirath had claimed that the Act “has been able to address most of the issues” related to increased number of sexual offences against children in the country.

Addressing a meeting at that time, Smt. Krishna Tirath had said that “the existing laws such as the IPC were insufficient and deficient to deal with the specific requirements regarding children as they do not distinguish between an adult and a child victim. Moreover, these laws are not gender neutral and the definition of ‘rape’ is also restrictive.” The new Act, she said, was gender neutral and covered all persons below the age of 18 years of age. Clear definition and description of offences had been provided. Also, stringent and harsh punishment for the offences was prescribed in the Act.

The Minister also said that “training of police functionaries at all levels and those of the Judiciary and Central and State governments is crucial for effective implementation of the Act. The States are responsible for designation of Sessions Court in each district as Special Court under the Act, along with appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, establishment of special Juvenile police units, Child Welfare Committees and District Child Protection Units.” Formulation of schemes for payment of compensation of the child victims was also responsibility of the State governments, she said.

It is unfortunate that while all this was said and done, much has not changed on ground level despite nearly 50 days have elapsed since the Act was passed. A 4-year girl was raped on 25th November in Narela, Delhi. Vansh Saluja, an AAP activist told Real News Intl. that “when the case was brought to the notice of AAP volunteers, they presurrized the police to get the medical examination of the child done. But despite their best efforts, the police did not get a medical examination conducted. Worst, the AAP volunteers were beaten on 1st December when they tried to pressurize the police.”

Though action was taken against 3 policemen who were instrumental in beating AAP volunteers under IPC 376 and 511 when Arvind Kejriwal and Gopal Rai sat on a sit-in outside the Narela Police Station, AAP volunteers have even posted a conversation with DCP Outer, B.S. Jaiswal on YouTube to show the lack of sensitivity being shown by the police.

The lack of sensitivity towards such issues can also be gauged from the fact that only one of the several senior police officers in Delhi to whom a questionnaire was sent by Real News Intl. seeking their views related to provisions and implementation of Sexual Offences Act, 2012 cared to reply.

A few days prior to the much publicized rape case in Delhi, Real News Intl. had sent an information seeking mailer to Shri Sanjay Kumar Jain (DCP-Crime and Railways), Shri BS Jaiswal (DCP-Outer Delhi), Shri Romil Baniya (DCP-Northwest Delhi), Smt. Sindhu Pillai (DCP-North Delhi), Shri VV Choudhary (DCP-Northeast Delhi), Shri Prabhakar (DCP-East Delhi), Smt. Chhaya Sharma (DCP-South Delhi), Shri Ajay Choudhary (Addl. CP-South East Delhi), Shri V. Rengnathan (Addl. CP-West Delhi), Shri Anil Kumar Ojha (Addl. CP-South West Delhi), Shri DC Shrivastava (Addl. CP-Central), Shri KC Dwivedi (Addl. CP-New Delhi), besides other senior officers like Shri MS Bisht (crime branch).

In her response, Smt. Sindhu Pillai (IPS and DCP-NorthDelhi) said that the Act creates and defines new offences covering a wide range of exploitative and coercive sexual activities with children, provides for punishment, lays down child oriented process and procedures and creates Special Courts, Special Public Prosecutors and so many other special service delivery agents. Prima facie Act appears to be sensitive and is responsive to problems which children face but at the same time it leaves behind several concerns unattended which will have to be dealt with while the act gets implemented.”

Smt. Pillai further informed that “all ACPs and SHOs of North Delhi have been directed to implement the provisions of the Act in true spirit.” She agreed that a Sensitization Training Program/Workshop need to be organized “to spread awareness about the various features and provisions of the Act.” She said that all ACPs and SHOs have been directed to implement the provisions of the Act in true spirit.

The recent exposure related to rape in a moving bus and the incidents in the aftermath have shown that sensitization training programs/workshops need to be organized at all levels not only in the National Capital but also in all the States as the policemen in remote parts of India are known to show much more insensitivity to such cases.

As the rape in Delhi continues to hog limelight in the media, several incidents related to sexual offences against children are still being ignored. Only a few days after the 4 year old girl was raped, Delhi saw a similar crime perpetuated against a 9-year old. A seven year old girl was raped and murdered two days back in Sitapur and another case of rape against a 15-year old has been reported against a Dalit girl in Faizabad the same day. Another case of an attempt to kidnap and rape has been reported against a 15-year old girl in Baghpat. While an increasing number of cases are coming to limelight, the administration and the politicians are seen continuing with their self-inflicted complacency.

Real News International News Bureau