Prevention Of Children Against Sexual Offences Act commonly referred to as POCSO came into existence in the year 2012 and since then has been used to protect children from offences of sexual harassment, sexual assault and
pornography. Since the act came into existence 67.5% of the victims who filed cases turned hostile in court and never testified against the accused while only 26.7% of victims showed up and gave their testimony.
The Delhi High Court in the February of this year granted bail to a man who was charged under section 6 of the POCSO act that allows punishment for up to 10 years in prison with the charge of penetrative sexual assault. The court ruled
that the victim expressed desire to marry the accused and that the relationship with the 17-year-old minor girl was consensual and there are no real charges against the petitioner who had been in jail since November, 2021.
Under the POCSO act, cases are to be disposed of within a year of it being it being filed, contrary to what is stated in the act a study revealed that the average number of days it takes for each case Is ranges from 215. 43 days to 877.96
days. There is growing concern over the “age of consent” in the cases being filed under POCSO, a report said that of the 7,064 cases filed under the POCSO act available on the e-courts of Assam, Maharashtra and West Bengal between
2016 and 2020, 24.3% of the cases constituted a “romantic” angle and the rate of acquittal in such cases is 93.8%. The reason for such a high rate of acquittal owed to the charges being filed by family members of adolescent girls who left
their homes to be with their partners thus pointing to how the act is being misused to settle scores amongst other reasons.
On the other hand, experts say that the way the POCSO act was designed to protect children seems to be the exact opposite because of the lack of facilities to provide protection to victims during their depositions. “There are many
Romeo and Juliet-like love story cases, where there is experimentation but no exploitation. It is simple love and infatuation. What is the point of conviction in such cases?” Said a principal judge at a family court in Delhi who dealt
with POCSO cases. This points to the credibility of the POCSO act and the high rate of it being misused which has resulted in the petitioner staying in jail during the said “trial” period when there was no necessity for trial in the first place.
A section under the POCSO act protects victims from perjury, which in other words means obstruction of justice where a person being deposed has lied when under oath. This in turn instills fear within the victims who are coerced to turn
hostile in court against the accused thus not getting the justice they deserve.
The spotlight on the high rate of acquittals has raised many eyebrows and experts in the field of law have put several cases since 2020 under scrutiny and since then the rate of acquittals has significantly declined.
A recent article in TOI where a man got convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl was given life sentence.
The same court convicted a 24-year-old man for 20 years imprisonment for raping a 13-year-old girl.
In another case, a fast track court in Kerela convicted a 63-year-old man for sexually assaulting a 9 year old girl and sentenced him to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment. The man was charged under sections 7 r/w 8, 9(m) r/w 10 of the POCSO act, 2012 under section 235 (2) CRPC.
The conviction rate in POCSO cases is steadily rising and there are more cases being filed under this act, and efforts are being made to effectively provide protection and justice to victims of such crimes by making facilities available that are child friendly which was the intended purpose of this act.