Crimes against children: India
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The position in the states: annual statistics
2008-18: Kerala records increase in number of crime against children
More reporting due to greater awareness: ADGP
There has been a steady increase in crimes committed against children in Kerala, according to a data released by the Kerala State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB).
Government officials are attributing this to increased reporting of crimes because of better awareness, but social workers contend that crimes against children have indeed increased.
Rise in offences
A decadal comparison of data shows that 549 offences against children under all categories were recorded in 2008, while the number shot up to 3,278 as of October, 2018. This includes both serious and other offences. Cases of rape rose from 215 in 2008 to 1,101 in 2017, and 999 in the first 10 months of 2018. There were noticeable spurts in the number of recorded rape cases in 2011, touching 423, compared to 208 a year earlier. A similar trend of increases was noted in 2013, 2016 and 2017, over the preceding year.
“Unlike other States, there is increased awareness in Kerala about the crimes against children and greater reporting of such crimes is reflected in the statistics,” said Tomin J. Thachankary, Additional DGP, SCRB. Cases of murder of children, however, dropped from 37 in 2008 to 18 in 2018. There have been no infanticide cases over the past three years, after four cases in 2015.
There was a single instance of trafficking of a minor girl last year, an improvement over all other years including the base year of 2008, when there were 13 cases. But cases registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act rose from four in 2008 to 17 in 2017 and 15 till October 2018.
Sheeba George, Director of Women and Child Development Department, said while increased reporting might have resulted in a higher number of cases, crimes against children had risen over the years.
Nirish Antony, Senior Programme Coordinator of Childline, said vacations were the time when children were found to be most vulnerable. “A pre-vacation awareness class could be held for students and parents,” he said.
2012: UP most unsafe place for children
The Times of India 2013/06/15
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh topped the list of crimes against children with 15.8% such cases reported from the state in 2012, according to the latest National Crime Record Bureau report. It ranked second in crimes against women.
Madhya Pradesh is ranked second with 13.5% cases of crimes reported against children. Delhi, Maharashtra and Bihar are ranked third (11.7%), fourth (9%) and fifth (7.6%). West Bengal is one of the safest states for children with only 4.5% of total cases against kids reported from there.
There is some good news though for UP, as it no longer tops the list of major crimeprone states. Among the bigger and populous states, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are as crime prone-now.
“UP has to face some many unique dimensions of crime because of its vast population and area. Still, it has been our endeavor to produce the best results. The crime trends of 2012 are encouraging, but there is still scope for improvement,” ADG Law & Order and Crime Arun Kumar said.
West Bengal tops the list of crimes against women, while Delhi has the highest rate of violent crimes in the country. Madhya Pradesh reported maximum rape cases (3,394), followed by West Bengal (2,040) and UP (1,951). TNN
Cases, number of/ Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO)
2001 to 2011: 336% spurt in child rape cases
‘336% spurt in child rape cases’
By TIMES NEWS NETWORK, The Times of India , 22 April 2013 The Times of India
Even as the national Capital protests against the heinous nature of the five-year-old child’s rape, an independent report, based on National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, shows that India is no country for children.
The report says a total of 48,338 child rape cases was recorded between 2001 and 2011, and the nation saw an increase of 336% of such cases from 2001 (2,113) to 2011 (7,112).
The report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), however, warns that this is only the “tip of the iceberg” as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too. Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of child rape cases with 9,465 cases between 2001 and 2011, followed by Maharashtra (6,868), Uttar Pradesh (5,949) and Andhra Pradesh (3,977). Delhi, which reported 2,909 cases, ranked sixth on the list.
The report, “India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes”, which has been submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, says that many of the cases take place in juvenile homes.
“It will not be an understatement to state that juvenile justice homes, established to provide care and protection as well as reintegration, rehabilitation and restoration of the juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, have become India’s hell holes where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill-treatment apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions. The girls remain the most vulnerable. It matters little whether the juvenile justice homes are situated in Delhi or in mofussil towns,” said Suhas Chakma, director, ACHR.
The 56-page report also highlights 39 cases of systematic and often repeated sexual assault on children in juvenile justice homes. Out of the 39 cases, 11 were reported from governmentrun juvenile justice homes, while in one case a CWC member was accused of sexual harassment during counselling sessions.
The remaining 27 cases were reported from private or NGO-run juvenile justice homes.
2005-16: cases quadruple
Every hour, two girls below the age of 18 years were raped in India in 2016 while 44% of kidnappings registered during the year were of girls in that age group, according to data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
In a situation analysis on violence against children, based on these NCRB data, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Child Fund India say girls below the age of 18 are the most vulnerable and many of those kidnapped are trafficked for labour and prostitution.
It has highlighted that despite the increase in the number of reported cases of child rape, conviction rate is low at around 28%. The disposal rate too remains low and by the end of 2016, police had disposed of about 64% of such cases.
The analysis, brought out in three volumes, says there is no clear and “comprehensive definition of what comprises as violence across laws”. It says violence against children is recognised only when it is registered as a criminal act. The NCRB data is the only reliable source that regularly monitors and tracks crimes against children, but it doesn’t report all incidents of violence against them, it says.
“There is a paucity of national level data for different forms of abuse and violence that children experience. Not all forms of violence are tracked, even when addressed in national policies. Hence it is difficult to establish the true scale of violence against children in India,” it pointed out.
“For example while the RTE Act, 2009 has made corporal punishment in schools a punishable offence, there is no system in place to monitor the extent to which teachers still use harsh disciplining methods against children,” says the report.
To drive home the need to have data on the issue, they cite a global study that points out that 1.3 billion children around the world experience harsh discipline at the hands of care-givers. Corporal punishment is the most commonly experienced form of violence starting as early as age 1 year.
2013/ Child rape: conviction rate
In 2013, trial completed in just 15% child rape cases
Abhinav Garg New Delhi:
The Times of India Jul 22 2014
Conviction Rate Was A Mere 31%
Only 15.3% of all cases relating to sexual offences against children in 2013 saw completion of trials in that year and the conviction rate for such crimes was a low 31.5%, latest figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveal.
Nearly 85% cases of child rape continue to be pending in various courts across India, according to the report.
Extreme reluctance of parents to bring their victimized children to courts, inability to ensure their anonymity and conflicting testimonies by kids scarred by assault are some of the primary reasons why sex crime cases against children tend to linger on.
But the biggest reason according to experts, including lawyers, activists and child counsellors is the tendency of the government to enact special laws for which it is unable to allocate required resources to enable implementation by the judiciary .
For instance, despite bringing in a “stringent“ law such as Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), there has been a jump in sex crimes against children. And, most district court complexes across the country are yet to get a dedicated sessions court for POCSO or independent special public prosecutors as envisaged under the Act that came into force in November 2012. Section 28 of the Act makes it mandatory for the state government to establish “a court of session to be special court in every district“ while section 32 mandates appointment of “special public prosecutors“.
Child rights lawyer Anant Asthana blamed the Centre and states for high pendency of sex crime trials in courts.
“The main reason is that the government doesn't invest in improving the justice delivery system,“ he said. “Supreme Court has said in its report on national court management system that government legislates but doesn't provide financial allocation. If there is no allocation how can magistrates be appointed, courtrooms built and prosecutors recruited?“
2014: victims below (and above) 18: Indian states with the worst record
Indian states with the highest number of rapes, and percentage of victims above and below 18 years of age
2014-17: Types of crimes
2014-17: Types of crimes against children in India
2015, 2016: 43 to 49% cases were assaults by neighbours, relatives on under-18s
NGO Study Says 50% Of Delhiites Feel Unsafe In Capital
The belief that the capital is not safe for its children has been reaffirmed by data accessed through Right to Information requests. Nearly half the rape cases reported in Delhi in 2015 and 2016 involved assaults on children. Not surprisingly, a perception survey carried out by NGO Praja among 24,000 households showed that 50% of the people did not feel safe in Delhi. The comparative figure for Mumbai was 17%.
Data gathered by Praja through RTIs showed that 49.14% of rape cases in 2015 and 43.79% in 2016 were registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which deals with sexual assaults on children under the age of 18 years. With 178 cases, Outer district registered the most POCSO cases, followed by South East (125) and North East
(124). Outer district also had the maximum registered rape cases at 367 in 2016. In most cases of assaults on children, the perpetrators were neighbours or relatives.
South district reported the highest occurrence of molestation of women (590), while West had the most cases of chain snatching (1,018) in 2016. Praja’s report said, “Around 60% do not feel that Delhi is secure for women, children and senior citizens, 67% respondents from Chandni Chowk and South Delhi find the city unsafe/ not secure for women, children and senior citizens in one's locality and 57% do not feel secure while travelling in Delhi.”
Of the 24,301respondents in the survey, 15% had witnessed a crime in Delhi against only 5% in Mumbai. Of the respondents who saw a crime being committed, 57% did not inform the police. Of the 43% who did approach the police, 76% were not satisfied with the response. In contrast, half of Mumbaikars who witnessed a crime informed the police and were satisfied with the institutional response.
Praja also reported that crime did not seem to be top of the mind for Delhi’s members of Parliament. Quoting an RTI reply on the questions raised by MPs in Parliament between the Budget session of 2014 and the Budget session of 2017, the data showed Manoj Tiwari and Ramesh Bidhuri asking the maximum number of questions, six, on crime while Parvesh Sahib Singh asked only one question on the subject.
Speaking at the release of the white paper on crime in Delhi, journalist Rahul Dev said the “sexual demon which is at work across all sections of society in Delhi” needs to be countered by “creating and sustaining an awareness campaign against sexual abuse of the children with all the stakeholders i.e. children, parents, schools and colleges”.
2015-16, crime against children increased by 82%
Crimes By Juveniles Also Show Uptrend
Instances of child rape increased by 82% in 2016 in comparison to 2015. Uttar Pradesh registered a four-fold increase in such offences with the number of child rapes going up from 596 in 2015 to 2,115 in 2016, according to the report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The report showed that 19,920 children were raped last year in comparison to 10,934 in 2015. Overall crimes against children saw the highest rise of 13.6% in 2016. Such crimes have been continuously on the rise over the past three years.
“Crimes against children have shown increasing trend over the past three years with significant increase of 13.6% (1,06,958) in 2016 over (94,172) in 2015. Kidnapping and abduction of children accounted for 52% of the cases followed by cases under POCSO,” a release issued by the home ministry said. POCSO stands for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which came into effect from 2012.
Maharashtra reported the highest number of child rapes at 2,467 in 2016, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 2,292. The report also shows an over 50% rise in cases of abduction and kidnapping in 2016 in comparison to 2015.
In a first, crime report of 2016 has included feticide cases, which were at 144.
It’s not just crimes against children which saw an increase, but also number of crimes committed by juveniles increased during 2016 by 7.2%. Rapes by juveniles increased from 1,688 in 2015 to 1,903 last year, an almost 13% jump. Similarly, the number of murders, kidnapping, abduction and thefts increased last year, the report shows.
The MHA release said: “20.6% (7,369) of cases under juvenile in conflict with law were reported in MP followed by 18.4% in Maharashtra (6,606) during 2016.”
According to the report, 9,932 juveniles held guilty last year were released on probation and placed under care of parents or guardians, while 10,019 were sent home after advise or admonition.
More than 60% children who went missing in 2016 were girls, most of them in Bengal
(15.1% out of 1,11,569). Across states, police had traced 55,944 children by 2017 end.
2015-17: POCSO cases in Delhi
Police register seven cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in Delhi every month. Officers said that the socio-economic inequalities in the underbellies of the city have led to an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault against children.
The cops dealing with child sexual abuse cases complained that parents are frequently found to be dissociated with the activities of their children due to their work schedules. “In cases where both the parents go out for work, the child is usually left with a neighbour or someone known to the family. For someone with ill intentions, this is an ideal opportunity," a police officer said.
Police claimed that the accused in POCSO cases are usually arrested within 24 hours of the crime. While reporting of sexual crimes has gone up due to awareness, there is usually an attempt to underplay their enormity because in most cases, the accused is a relative, a neighbour or a person known to the child. A police study put the percentage of the known accused at almost 90%.
In around 35% of the cases, the offenders are discovered to be people who are in an authoritative position, such as a teacher or a family elder. They are able to influence the child to the extent that they are terrified to complain about the abuse. Almost 90% of children counselled by NGOs and cops last year did not report the harassment to anyone until the abuse was discovered by the parents.
In any case, children below a certain age are normally unable to distinguish between an affectionate hug and an embrace loaded with sexual intent or are too shy to complain even if continuously assaulted. “They keep their trauma to themselves, frequently due to coercions and pressures,” said a woman police officer, who regularly counsels children.
Cops and legal experts agree that the longwinded process to establish the accuseds’ role in crimes give them time to convince the parents to withdraw their charges. Police officers said that almost 90% of POCSO cases have both the victim and accused belonging to the same community or colony.
A study by Delhi Police conducted in 2016 revealed that 84% of child rapes took place in houses or in slum clusters where the accused were known to the victim, and 39% of the crimes were found to involve the friends of the victims. The National Crime Records Bureau data of the same year showed that on average, only 61% of sexual cases were reported by economically disadvantaged groups. The data also recorded that 71 rape victims were aged below six years, while 806 were in the age group of 18-30.
A study conducted in 2015 by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights established that 53% of children faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. Most victims were street children, children at work or in institutional care.
2015> 17/ Delhi, an analysis
An analysis of POCSO cases in Delhi, 2015- 17
The rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in north Delhi’s Narela only confirms police data that child sexual abuse is on the rise, especially in the capital’s urban villages and illegal colonies. Last year, at least two children became the target of sexual predators every fortnight. Delhi Police told Parliament that it had registered 165 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act last year, double the number in 2017. In a vast majority of the cases, the sexual assaulters are people — relatives, friends, teachers and neighbours — known to the family of the victims. Police figures show that only in 2.5% of the 2018 cases were strangers involved. A Delhi Police study conducted in 2016 revealed that 84% of rapes involved people who were known to the survivors, 39% among them being friends of the victims.
Because of the familiarity factor, the families are not keen on reporting the crimes and often allow the predators to go free. “In most cases the attackers live in the vicinity of the victim, whether it be the father, an uncle or a family friend. And frequently, parents of the victim are dissuaded from reporting them under societal pressure,” said a police officer. Police officers disclosed that in almost 90% of the POCSO cases, the victim and accused were from the same community or colony, with the families of both living in proximity.
Police officers probing incidences of sexual assault of children say that in around a third of the cases, the offenders are people in a position of authority, like a teacher or an elder, to the survivors. They can influence the child to an extent where they are terrified to complain about sexual harassment. Almost 90% of children counselled by an NGO and cops in 2018 had not reported the abuse to anyone.
According to a study of sexual crimes against children, abuse occurs in places considered to be the safest by the survivors’ parents, such as a school or a public place. In 2016, the National Crime Records Bureau put the number of rape victims aged below six years at 71, while those in the age group of 18-30 numbered 806.
In a study in 2018, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation determined that changing social relationships, increased level of independence of children and changing psyches due to the influence of social media were the main reasons behind the spike in the number of cases of sexual assault on minors.
In addition, sexual crimes occur because children below a certain age are unable to distinguish between an affectionate hug and an embrace loaded with sexual intent. In any case, they are too ignorant of the implications or too shy to complain even when continously assaulted sexually. “They keep their trauma to themselves mostly because of coercion and pressure imparted by people around them,” explained a woman police officer who counsels survivors.
The cops and legal experts agree that the long-winding process to establish the role of a suspect in a case of sexual attack give the perpetrators the time to persuade the survivors’ parents to withdraw their cases.
2015: cases pending in children courts under POCSO
The pendency of cases of crimes against children have gone up significantly . Maharashtra accounts for nearly half of all the 27,500 cases of crime against children pending in the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) courts across the country , followed by Kerala, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The POCSO courts, set up in 2012, are special courts for the trial of cases of crimes against children to prevent minors from being victimised again in courts which otherwise have to deal with long pendency of other cases. A POCSO court has provision for incamera trial in a child-friendly environment without revealing the identity of children.
There are 591 such courts across the country , almost one in every district, to ensure that the trials are completed within a year from the date of registration of the FIR. These courts come under the direct supervision of the high court of respective states. According to the law ministry , 27,558 cases of crimes against children are pending in POCSO courts as of July this year, of which 12,990 are pending in Maha rashtra alone. The other states where such pendencies are high include Kerala (3,991), Rajasthan (3,828), Madhya Pradesh (1,241) and Bihar (950).
Crimes against children have gone up in recent years, and so have the pendencies in the special children courts set up to deal with such cases.
In order to deal with such cases, the high courts and state governments have taken various steps that included appointment of 459 special public prosecutors, 729 special juvenile police units and 591 special children courts set up in 694 districts, according to the law ministry . The only state which has not set up POCSO courts is Jammu and Kashmir as it is not governed under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, about 14,900 cases were registered under the POCSO Act during 2015, the available statistics. The highest was, however, registered in Uttar Pradesh (3,078 cases), followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,687) and Tamil Nadu (1,544 cases).
However, cases of crime against children booked under various laws have significantly gone up over the years.The NCRB says a total of 94,172 cases of crimes against children were registered in the country during 2015 as compared to 89,423 cases during 2014 and 58,224 in 2013.Maharashtra again accounted for the highest 14.8% of total crimes committed against children registered in the country , followed by Madhya Pradesh (13.7%), Uttar Pradesh (12%) and Delhi (10%).
2016: pending cases
Pending cases of child abuse, state-wise- 2016
2017, Nov – 2018. April/ UP
On November 26, a seven-year-old girl was raped and murdered by her father in Etmadpur area of Agra district.
On February 2 in Shikohabad (Firozabad district), a seven-year-old boy was murdered after been sodomised by a 20-year-old youth, who was a neighbour of the victim.
On February 14, a 16-year-old dalit girl was allegedly gang raped in Nagla Ajab village under Pachokara police jurisdiction of Firozabad district.
On February 24, a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 23-year-old neighbour in Delhi gate police jurisdiction in Aligarh.
March 3 A 14 year-old girl was allegedly raped and burnt to death by her 17 year-old neighbour in Malahpur village of Aligarh.
On March 17, a third-year-old law student of an Agra college raped and murdered an eight-year-old girl. He left her body at a college ground in Agra.
April 11, in Etah, a dalit girl charged a man with allegedly raping her after lacing her food with sedatives.
17 April: A seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered in Etah district during a wedding ceremony by a youth who was hired to set up the tent for the occasion.
The incident took place in Sitalpur village, two km away from Kotwali Nagar police station early Tuesday morning. The victim’s body was found abandoned at an under-construction home, close to the wedding venue. Following the incident, the accused identified as Sonu Jatav fled, but was later apprehended by the police.
According to sources, the victim, a resident of Sitalpur, along with her parents had come to attend the wedding ceremony of a local journalist’s sister. The girl went missing during the garland exchange ceremony, even as her parents kept searching for her whereabouts. “Later at around 1:30 am, the unconscious girl was found in a semi-naked condition, with strangulation marks on her neck. Her abdomen also had blood stains,” the source said.
The accused was arrested. Based on the written complaint of the victim’s family, the accused Sonu has been booked under IPC section 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and POCSO act.”
Maharashtra is the state where the maximum number of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act were registered in the country during 2017-2019. Of this number, 8,503, in nearly 50% of the cases minors were lured online into meeting people who then subjected them to sexual abuse or entered into sexual relationships with the promise of marriage. In law, maintaining a physical relationship with someone below the age of consent is statutory rape.
On the list of states, Maharashtra is followed by UP with 6,978 cases, MP (5,348), Karnataka (4,339) and Gujarat (4,228). The three-year data was released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2019 being the last year for which NCRB statistics are available. In Maharashtra, it was found that cases of abuse of minors has been on the rise, going up from 2,398 cases in 2017 to 2,944 in 2018 to 3,161 in 2019. The report has been classified into offenders’ relation to the victim. While the worst perpetrators are ‘online friends’, the report showed that minors are at risk even at home or in the neighbourhood from friends and family. The most vulnerable underage persons are between 16 and 18 years old, followed by 12-16 years, 6-12 years and then even those aged below six years.
Delhi: POCSO offences almost double
The national capital reported a doubling of cases registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in 2018 compared with the previous year. Police attribute the trend to rising awareness among people.
According to Delhi Police data, 165 cases were reported till November 30 last year, compared with 88 in 2017.
The Act deals with sexual abuse, harassment and pornography against minors.
Out of the 165 cases, the police claimed to have “worked out”, or initiated action, in 140 cases and arrested 144 accused, according to the data. Ninety-five people were arrested and action taken in 86 of the 88 cases in 2017.
While 80 cases in 2018 were pending trial, investigations in 82 such incidents were yet to conclude.
In 2017, 77 cases were awaiting trial, while 35 were still being probed as of the end of the year, according to data. As in 2017, the police issued challans to 80 accused in 2018.
According to officers, the rise in number of cases is mainly due to increase in public awareness.
Last year, more Delhiites, especially the poor, came forward and reported such crimes against children to the police.
‘Offenders are known to victims in 90% of cases’
There’s been a steady rise in the numbers of cases since 2012, since the Act was established, they added.
In almost 90% of the cases, offenders are known to the victims, making it more difficult for them to approach the cops, according to the police. However, such offenders, cops claimed, were arrested soon after the police were informed.
Apart from family members of victims, hospital staff have also helped the police in taking action. For example, acting on the information given by hospital personnel, a 19-year-old was arrested when his cousin sister was admitted for delivery in Najafragh in December last year. During counselling, the girl said she had been raped by her cousin brother since the last four years, senior officers said.
MUMBAI: Sixty-nine per cent of survivors in rape cases registered in the city in FY 2018-19 were children, shows a report on policing and law and order released by Praja Foundation. In 90% of the cases reported under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, offenders were known to the minors.
Overall, 784 cases of rape were registered in Mumbai in 2018-19—up 22% from 2014-15. The data was accessed by Praja under the RTI Act. The highest number of rape cases in the previous FY, at 244, were reported in North-West Mumbai constituency, comprising Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Andheri and Malad areas. North-Central Mumbai, comprising Vile Parle, Kurla, Bandra and Chembur, had the highest number of molestation cases at 739 during the same period.
Eighty-two of the total 1,140 Pocso victims in the previous financial year were young boys, a majority of them in the age group of six to 12 years.
‘Friend’ involved in 54% of Pocso cases
“We have always been saying that young boys are being sexually abused, just that socially and culturally boys weren’t open to talking about it due to the stigma attached,” said Priti Patkar, social worker and co-founder of the non-profit Prerana.
In 54% out of 527 Pocso cases, offenders were friends or contacts made online. Experts said it is necessary to empower children by teaching them about their right to boundaries. “Children must be taught to say no and that it’s never their fault if they face sexual abuse. They should be taught that if they ever face a case of child sexual abuse, they should approach a trusted adult immediately and confide in him. Adults must have these conversations with children age appropriately and they shouldnt be one-time conversations as a child may speak up subsequently,” said an expert.
The Praja data also showed that of the 1,058 female Pocso victims, 39% were in aged 16 to 18 years. “Consensual sex between adolescents and youths getting criminalized is an area of concern for many of us because we are seeing high numbers on the ground,” added Patkar. “We are seeing instances of girls and boys aged between 16 and 18 years indulging in consensual sex which is getting criminalized under law. This is a reality we will have to address. We need a larger debate and need to educate our children about consent culture as well,” said Patkar.
The Praja data showed that MLAs raised only two questions regarding crimes against children in assembly sessions, despite such a large number of Pocso cases in the previous financial year. Only seven out of 289 issues raised by four North-West Mumbai MLAs were related to rape when this constituency had the highest number of cases during the period.
Convictions under POCSO Act
Convictions under POCSO, 2013–2020
2015-18, Delhi: zero convictions
It was supposed to expedite the process of dealing with crimes against minors, but Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act — which came into force in 2012 — doesn’t seem to have changed things much on the ground. At least the data indicates so. In the past four years, Delhi Police has not managed to secure a single conviction under POCSO despite the number of cases having been on the rise.
According to Delhi Police’s reply to a Rajya Sabha questionnaire, 414 FIRs were registered between 2015 and 2018 and challans were filed in 270 cases. While convictions remained zero, the number of cases pending trial over four years stood at 268. Two FIRs lodged in 2015 and 2017 were cancelled. The data of 2018 was available till November 30.
A senior police officer said that there was no delay on their part and investigations were wound up within the stipulated time and accused arrested in most cases.
The data shows that 77 people were arrested in 2015, 96 in 2016, 95 in 2017 and 144 in 2018. While there was “pending investigation” in 17 cases in 2015, the figure was 26 in 2016, 35 in 2017 and 82 in 2018. In the past four years, seven cases have remained “untraced”.
Though police didn’t give an official comment on the reasons for the delay, sources said that the pendency of cases and the lengthy legal process were reasons for the cases dragging on for four years. In many cases, witnesses turned hostile as the accused was known to the family.
Police, however, seem hopeful that things will get better with the recent amendments to POCSO Act. The amendments state that investigation as well as trial in all rape cases should be completed within two months. All appeals for registration of POCSO case should be disposed within six months.
“Now, there is no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl aged below 16. Before deciding on his bail application, the court has to give a notice of 15 days to the public prosecutor and the representative of the survivor,” an officer explained. The amendments also have a provision of death penalty for a person charged with rape of a girl aged below 12.
SC: Compromise with victim
It is no ground to let off child molester
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has refused to grant relief to a person who after being convicted under Section 354 of the IPC (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage modesty) comprom ised with the victim and pleaded to be let off in the case on that ground.
“The petitioner after full trial was convicted under Section 354 of the IPC and his conviction was upheld by the HC. At this stage, the p etitioner has now come with a case that a compromise has been entered into between the petitioner and the complainant/ victim. We find no reason to grant any credence to such compromise which is being entered into after the conviction has been confirmed by the HC under the judgment impugned,” a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay SOka said in its b rief order. In this case, an FIR was lodged against him on a complaint filed by the m other of a 10-year old girl for allegedly trying to molest her. He was convicted by trial court and was awarded one-year jail. His conviction was also upheld by Tripura High Court.
He moved the SC against the HC order and also brought to court’s notice that he had co mpromised with the victim but the court refused to grant him relief and dismissed his appeal.
Consensual sex between teens
Punishing an adolescent boy who enters into a relationship with a minor girl by treating him as an offender was never the objective of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, observed the Madras high court. It also recommended to the legislature to swiftly bring necessary amendments to the act, reports Srikkanth D.
The court made the observations while quashing criminal proceedings pending before a magistrate court against an auto driver who was booked under Pocso for marrying a minor. The case was filed in 2018, when both the boy and the girl were a few days short of 18.
‘Pocso law can become tool for some in society’
The girl’s family moved the HC to quash the criminal proceedings, saying the family wanted to get the girl married and that the criminal proceedings caused them mental agony. On her part, the girl also deposed before the court through video-conferencing and said she was in a relationship with the boy. The prosecution argued that the court has to consider whether an offence of this nature could be quashed on the ground of compromise between the parties.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh noted that there can be no second thought as to the seriousness of offences under the Pocso Act and the object it seeks to achieve. “However, it is imperative for the court to draw a thin line that demarcates the nature of acts that should not be made to fall within the scope of the act, for such is the severity of sentences provided under the act, if acted upon hastily, it could lead to irreparable damage to the livelihood of youth whose actions would have only been innocuous.” The judge said the law meant to protect and render justice to victims of child abuse can become a tool in the hands of certain sections of the society.
Allahabad HC/ 2022
Pocso Act should not be used in cases of teenage romance: HC
Observing that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act is not intended for teenagers' romantic affairs, the Allahabad high court granted bail to a Pocso accused youth, who ran away with a 14-year-old girl and married her in a temple, reports Rajesh Kumar Pandey. The youth, who was a minor then, remained in company of the girl for almost two years during which the girl gave birth to a child. The boy is a Brahmin while the girl is a Dalit. Allowing the bail application of the accused, Justice Rahul Chaturvedi observed, “Growing incidences where teenagers and young adults fall victim of the offences under the Pocso Act, and being slapped by the penal provisions of the Act without understanding the far-reaching implication of the severity of the enactment, is an issue that brings much concern to the conscience of this court. ”
Both the applicant and the girl met in the school during an NCC parade.
Death penalty under POCSO
Araria: A Pocso court in Bihar’s Araria on Thursday sentenced to death a 48-year-old man convicted of kidnapping and raping a seven-year-old Dalit girl on December 1 last year. “The rape of a child involves extreme brutality, which has always been regarded as an aggravated form of rape. The girl was subjected to inhuman acts of torture and cruelty for the sole motive to commit rape. This clearly falls in the category of rarest of rare cases,” special Judge Shashikant Rai said while handing capital punishment to Mohammad Major.
“We have ensured speedy trial. The case was investigated and a chargesheet submitted on January 12, within 41days of the crime,” SP Ashok Kumar Singh said Special public prosecutor Shyamlal Yadav said it was probably the first instance of a Pocso court pronouncing capital punishment to someone convicted of raping a minor from the SC community.
Identity in child rape to be Protected: HC
Apr 03 2015
The Delhi high court expressed concern over identity of child survivors of sexual offences being disclosed. HC has directed trial courts and hospitals to ensure that guidelines laid down by it are scrupulously followed in all cases relating to children.The court said it is the duty of the hospital where a child is admitted for treatment to ensure that no details of the survivor are divulged.
Abench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said the norms must be adhered to since it deals with keeping the identity of the child confidential unless permitted by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) or Child Welfare Committee (CWC).The guidelines, prepared by a committee set up by the high court, also provide for creation of probe panels in courts and hospitals in case of such lapses.
In its latest directive, the court said that “the guidelines framed by the committee appointed by this court and as approved by this court should be implemented with immediate effect. The guidelines must be circulated in all courts and hospitals of the national capital, so that they are implemented.“
The bench said that this should be done before July 15.
The court's direction came after it was informed that the guidelines were not being implemented, as authorities were found to be disclosing the name and identity of the children in need of care and protection.
The court was hearing a petition, filed by lawyer Anant Asthana, questioning the disclosure of identity of a 15-year-old girl who had brought a two-year-old baby to AIIMS in January 2012.
The child was admitted with severe head injury , both arms broken, bite marks all over her body and her cheeks branded with hot iron.
Skin-to-skin contact is assault
Not sex assault if there’s no skin-to-skin contact: Bombay HC
MUMBAI: When there is “no direct physical contact — skin to skin with sexual intent, without penetration,” it would not amount to ‘sexual assault’ under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, Bombay high court held while acquitting a 39-year-old man who had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment under section 8 of the Act by a trial court for pressing the breasts of a minor.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of Nagpur bench of the HC said “stricter proof and serious allegations are required’’ given the stringent punishment of three to five years’ imprisonment that ‘sexual assault’ under the Pocso Act entails. “Evidently, it is not the case of the prosecution that the appellant removed her top and pressed her breast,” said Justice Ganediwala adding, “The act of pressing of breast of the child aged 12 years, in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of ‘sexual assault’”.
But it would attract punishment for molestation under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said the HC, and convicted him for the “minor offence”. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
The HC said the issue before it was whether ‘pressing of breast’ and ‘attempt to remove salwar’ would fall within the definition of ‘sexual assault’ as defined under Section 7 and punishable under Section 8 of the Pocso Act. While public prosecutor MJ Khan argued the offence fell within the definition of ‘sexual assault’, the HC held it was “not possible to accept’’ the prosecutor’s submission. The court said the “basic principle of criminal jurisprudence is that punishment shall be proportional to seriousness of crime”.
The trial court in Nagpur had last February sentenced the man under section 8 of the Pocso Act and under section 354 IPC (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage a woman’s modesty). The man had appealed his conviction.
The girl had testified that she was lured on a false pretext by the accused to his house. She said he had tried to remove her salwar and had pressed her breast. She tried to shout, but he covered her mouth and left the room after bolting the door from outside. Her mother went to his house while looking for her. She had seen the accused leave, and on reaching the first floor found the door bolted from outside and her daughter crying inside. She then went to the police station along with her daughter to lodge an FIR, noted the HC.
The man was on bail. The HC issued a non-bailable warrant against him and said all his other sentences shall run concurrently and he would be entitled for a set-off of term undergone in custody.
SC’s view/ 21
Holding that physical contact with a child with sexual intent could not be trivialised by excluding it from the ambit of sexual assault, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that direct skin-toskin touch is not essential and even indirect touch amounts to an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
A bench of Justices U U Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi quashed two judgments of the Bombay high court which had held that “skin to skin” contact was essential for the purpose of proving the charge of sexual offence under Pocso.
‘Narrow interpretation will defeat Pocso Act purpose’
The Supreme Court held that a narrow interpretation of “physical contact” would defeat the purpose of the Pocso Act, which was framed to protect children. The high court ruling had caused widespread consternation as it could have allowed offenders to exploit the reference to escape the ambit of the law.
“The act of touching any sexual part of the body of a child with sexual intent or any other act involving physical contact with sexual intent could not be trivialised or held insignificant or peripheral so as to exclude such act from the purview of ‘sexual assault’ under Section 7,” the bench said. It noted use of gloves, cloth, or contact through clothes, or even use of condoms, could have been excluded in the light of the HC orders despite sexual intent. The HC verdict passed in January had led to considerable outrage and it was attorney general K K Venugopal who challenged it before the SC saying the order was outrageous and will have wider ramifications on 43,000 Pocso cases registered every year in the country. It is the only second time in the history of the SC that the attorney general moved court against an HC order. The first was in 1985 when the then AG challenged a Rajasthan HC order directing execution of death sentence by public hanging. The National Commission for Women and Maharashtra government had also subsequently filed appeals against the HC verdict. “Restricting the interpretation of the words ‘touch’ or ‘physical contact’ to ‘skin to skin contact’ would not only be a narrow and pedantic interpretation of the provision contained in Section 7 of the Pocso Act, but it would lead to an absurd interpretation of the said provision.
Holding child’s hand, unzipping pant not sexual assault: HC
Holding kid’s hand, unzipping pant not sexual assault: HC
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court ruled that holding hands of a five-yearold girl and unzipping one’s pants in front of her could not be defined as ‘sexual assault’ under the Pocso Act, and reversed the conviction of a 50-year-old man.
“Considering the nature of the offence and the sentence prescribed, the aforesaid acts aren’t sufficient for fixing criminal liability on accused for alleged offence of ‘aggravated sexual assault’. At most, the minor offence punishable under Section 354-A (1)(I) of IPC (sexual harassment) read with Section 12 of the Pocso Act is proved against the petitioner,” she said, before quashing charges under Sections 8 and 10 of Pocso Act slapped against Libnus Kujur from Gadchiroli and maintaining conviction under outraging of modesty.
On January 19, Ganediwala had held that groping a 12-year-old’s breasts without removing her clothes wasn’t ‘sexual assault’ as there was no skin-to-skin contact. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court stayed the verdict after attorney general KK Venugopal made a request to the court, warning that it may have wider ramifications and set a dangerous precedent. Justice Ganediwala was appointed district judge in 2007 and elevated as HC’s additional judge in 2019. She was made permanent HC judge by the SC collegium on January 21.
Kujur had challenged a Special Pocso court verdict awarding him five years’ rigorous imprisonment. The minor’s mother had accused him of of holding the girl’s hands, unzipping his pant in front of her and asking her to join him in bed, when both parents were away from home.
“Considering the nature of the act which could be established by the prosecution and considering the punishment provided for those crimes, in the HC’s opinion, the imprisonment (of five months), which petitioner has already undergone would serve the purpose,” she said before asking the police to set him free.
‘Considering the nature of the offence and the sentence prescribed, the aforesaid acts aren’t sufficient for fixing criminal liability for ‘aggravated sexual assault’. At most, the minor offence punishable under Section 354-A (1)(I) of IPC read with Section 12 of the Pocso Act is proved against the petitioner’.
Holding hand, professing love not harassment
Ruling that holding a minor’s hand once and professing love by itself does not amount to sexual harassment, a special Pocso court acquitted a 28-year-old man who was booked and arrested after he proposed to a 17-year-old girl in 2017. The court held there was no evidence to show that the accused had any sexual intention. It also said there was no evidence that he had persistently followed the minor or accosted her in an isolated place. The court said there was no cogent evidence to establish that the accused used criminal force with intention to outrage the modesty of the minor. “...The accused is entitled for benefit of doubt and subsequently for his acquittal,” it said.
Oral sex with minor not aggravated assault: HC
The Allahabad high court has held that oral sex with a minor amounts to “penetrative sexual assault” under Section 4 of the Pocso Act, but can’t be treated as “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” that invites stricter punishment under Section 6 of the same law. In making this observation, the court reduced the jail term of a man convicted of forcing oral sex on a child from 10 to seven years.
Hearing the appeal filed by Sonu Kushwaha, who was convicted by a Jhansi court, the single-judge bench of Justice Anil Kumar Ojha said, “After going through the records and provisions of the Pocso Act, I am of the considered opinion that the appellant should be punished under Section 4...because the act done by the appellant falls in the category of penetrative sexual assault.”
Kushwaha had offered Rs 20 to the survivor to keep quiet. He threatened the child with dire consequences if anyone came to know about what happened. The trial court pronounced him guilty of aggravated sexual assault, as defined by Section 5 of the Pocso Act, and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
The high court ruled that the offence couldn't be categorised under sections 5 and 6 of the legislation as the act of oral sex was not “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”, as defined by the law. It said the quantum of punishment should, therefore, be determined by Section 4 of the act rather than Section 6.
The Allahabad high court ruled that the offence couldn’t be categorised under Sections 5 and 6 of the Pocso Act as the act of oral sex was not ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’, as defined by the law
Touching minor’s cheeks not sexual assault: HC
Observing that touching cheeks without a sexual intent would not attract the offence of “sexual assault” under the Pocso Act, the Bombay HC on Friday granted bail to a 46-yearold chicken seller who spent 13 months in jail.
It said primary evaluation of material on record doesn’t suggest the accused touched the minor’s cheeks with a sexual intent. “In consideration of these facts, in my view, a case is made out for releasing the applicant on bail,” the court said. The HC, though, clarified that observations made “be construed as expression of opinion for purpose of bail only and the same shall not in any way influence trial in other proceedings”.
The accused was arrested in July 2020 after the eightyear-old girl’s mother lodged a complaint that the accused had touched her inappropriately when she went to his shop. Bail pleas of the accused were earlier rejected by trial court. Advocate Ram Prasad Gupta appeared for the accused and submitted that the accused was falsely implicated. The defence said the accused was gainfully employed, had roots in society and had family to look after.
“Thus, there arises no question of the applicant’s absconding and not available for trial,” he submitted. The FIR was lodged on July 29, 2020. It was alleged that the complainant, who lived in the neighbourhood, saw the accused signalling the girl to come to his shop. She went inside. It was alleged that after some time the accused came outside, looked around, went back in and pulled the shutter down. It was alleged that when the shutter was opened, he was found behaving inappropriately with the child.
Posterior is a private part
Posterior is a pvt part, says court in Pocso case conviction
Observing that the term private part is to be interpreted in the context of what it means in “our society”, a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) court sentenced a 22-year-old man to 5-year jail for touching a 10-year-old girl’s posterior, reports Rebecca Samervel.
The accused in his defence submitted that the child had stated he touched her private parts and that the posterior did not fit in that definition.
The court, though, said while Google, as cited by the defence advocate, may not interpret it as a private part, it was not an acceptable interpretation as far as Indians are concerned.
Mumbai court cites SC verdict in KPS Gill case in its order
The court also pointed out that sexual assault as defined under Section 7 of Pocso Act states if the touch is to organs other than those categorised as private parts, then it must be with a sexual intention. “So obviously touching the bum of the girl cannot be said to be without sexual intention,” the court said.
The court also cited the case involving late retired IPS officer KPS Gill, who was convicted for patting an IAS officer’s posterior at a party in 1988. The court said the Supreme Court had held that by touching the body of the complainant with culpable intention, the accused committed offences under the Indian Penal Code Sections 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty) and 509 (insulting a woman’s modesty).
“The same analogy is applicable in the case in hand. As the victim was a child of 10 years on the date of the incident, the provision of Pocso Act attracts for the similar kind of his act touching the posterior of the victim. Thus, the prosecution has succeeded in proving that the accused has committed the said act with sexual intention and outraged her modesty,” the court said.
The incident occurred on September 17, 2017. The child said that at 6pm when she was out to buy bread, she saw four boys sitting outside a shop. She said they laughed and teased her. The child further stated that later when she was on her way to the temple with her friend, one of the boys, came and touched her posterior.
Female genital mutilation
A penal offence under IPC, POCSO Act
The Centre told the Supreme Court that female genital mutilation (FGM), prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra community in India, is a penal offence under the IPC and the POCSO Act.
Responding to a PIL by advocate and social activist Sunita Tiwari seeking a ban on on this practice and making it a cognisable offence warranting arrest, the Centre told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, “FGM is already a penal offence under several provisions of IPC and POCSO Act and these sections could be invoked to prosecute those who indulge in FGM.”
Even while holding that FGM was a punishable offence, the ministry of women and child development pleaded with the SC to make the ministries of home affairs and external affairs parties to this petition for effective redressal of issues highlighted by the petitioner.
Paedophilia in Delhi, 2013-17
Murray Dennis Ward is not Delhi first encounter with a paedophile.At least three others were apprehended in the past two years. All of them targeted children from lower economic classes. But they share certain characteristics that could flag them as dangerous for society .
According to studies, more than half of sex offenders repeat their crime. Mental health expert Rajat Mitra, who has studied sex offenders lodged in Tihar Jail, said that 58% of the men jailed for rape admitted that it wasn't their first time. Experts say many are predisposed to such crimes. Care should, therefore, be taken to notice the red flags. Take the case of Sunil Rastogi, caught in east Delhi earlier this year. He had earlier been released from a UP ja il for good behaviour while serving out a sentence for raping a minor. Out of jail, he sexually assaulted another nine-year-old girl. The law permitted Rastogi to seek a bail from the police station.
Ramesh Kumar, a labourer arrested in outer Delhi last year for raping and killing 30 children, claimed that he had first committed a sexual crime against a neighbour's child.When the child did not report the matter to the parents, Kumar became bolder. Later whenever he faced resistance from his other victims, he beat them or strangled them after every sexual act.
Many of those arrested for paedophilia are released within months of their arrest. Police and legal experts opined that a registry of offenders should be made and those on the list made to regular report to the police. This, they felt, could be a strong de terrence. Many countries have such databases that law enforcers regularly consult.
Delhi Police does publish a list of sex offenders on its website. This “name and shame“ mechanism has been around since 2013. Details of 700 people convicted of sexual crimes between 1983 and 2017 have been uploaded by the Crime Branch so far. “We upload the names, pictures and conviction details related to three types of offences: rape, molestation and outraging a woman's modesty ,“ a police officer said.
This initiative was in line with the Justice Verma Commission's recommendations on women's safety and Union home ministry directives.The registry in available on http:www.delhipolice.nic.in under the `Useful links' tab under the head of “sexual harassment“. Most crime experts think that the scope of the registry has to be broadened. The central government, it is learnt, is working on a national registry of sexual offenders. It will come into being once all police stations are connected to a single network.
POCSO and the society
Marriages helping secure acquittals in Pocso cases
Stir Debate On Review Of Age Of Consent
In as many as 90 cases registered under Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act over five years across district courts in Kerala, the reason for acquittal lay in the fact that the accused married the survivor and the latter testified to the same. At least three of these survivors who married the accused were just 15- years- old at the time of occurrence of the offence and three others were even younger. In around 68 cases, the survivor was in the age group of 16-17 years at the time of the occurrence of the offence.
At a consultation organised by voluntary organisation “Independent Thought” in the capital on combating child marriage and associated challenges under various laws, advocate Soumya Bhaumik presented the Kerala data as a case study based on a scrutiny of district court judgments.
“It has come out that one of the major reason for acquittal has been due to the fact that accused person has married the victim girl after the registration of the offence. Half of the victim girls were of the age group of 17 years. Figures also show that those who were below 15 at the time of offence have also married the accused. This projects a worrisome scenario as it is possible that they may have married as minors and that is a violation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006,” Bhaumik pointed. “The other concern is that after the registration of crime there is considerable delay in the commencement of trial, and it is in this intervening period that marriages have happened (alleged accused have been released on bail),” he added.
Sharing case studies, Bhaumik pointed that “It is recorded in one of the judgment that accused married the victim girl after she attained majority and they have children also. In another case, accused who happened to be victim girl’s stepbrother is now husband of the survivor.” He added that all these cases show there is need to carry out follow-up on these cases to establish the couples are leading a happy married life or there are cases where the accused person who married the survivor has abandoned her.
Another study on the implementation of Pocso in Delhi and Mumbai, steered by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights and the Forum Against Sexual Exploitation of Children (FACSE), shows that many acquittals in Pocso cases have happened as the accused and survivor were established to be in a “romantic relationship.” This data brings back focus on the larger issue of review of the age of consent debate in the context of Pocso as far as consensual sex between minors is concerned.
Based on data collected for the period 2012-15, it came through that out of 386 cases disposed of in Delhi and Mumbai, 92 cases (24%) ended in conviction. More than three-fourths of the disposed cases in Delhi - 286 cases (78%), were acquitals. Most acquittals in Delhi were in cases relating to children aged 16 to 18 years (72 out of 231), whereas in Mumbai, it was in cases of children aged 13 to 15 years (4 out of 8). Maximum acquittals where the accused/offender was ‘known’ to the child are cases of romantic relationship (39%), followed by cases where the accused/offender is a neighbour (25%), and cases where the accused/offender is a relative (19%).
In around 68 cases where the accused married the survivor, the latter was in the age group of 16-17 years at the time of the occurrence of the offence,
POCSO/ Amendments in law sought
2021/ Minimum penalty
While the debate over the controversial Bombay high court verdict, which held that absence of “skin to skin contact” meant it wasn’t sexual assault, rages for its restrictive interpretation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, child rights activists and lawyers said another aspect has been inconspicuously affecting legal outcomes in such cases — the minimum sentence provision.
“We have been resisting the three-year minimum sentence from the very beginning. We can’t ignore the fact that judges are increasingly going to do this,” said Bharti Ali, executive director of Delhi-based child rights NGO Haq. Child rights lawyer Anant Kumar Asthana said: “When judges are reluctant to award the minimum mandatory sentence in a given case, where they don’t think that kind of severe punishment is warranted, they find a way out.
“Judges often see penetrative assault as an assault. In non-penetrative offences, the accused can be given the benefit of the doubt,” said child rights advocate Maharukh Adenwalla. In the absence of the provision for a discretionary sentence, judges may forego sentencing under Pocso altogether.
POCSO vis-à-vis Muslim Personal Law
Pocso provisions applicable to all minors: HC
New Delhi: Delhi High Court has said that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso Act) will be applicable to any sexually abused minor. It rejected a plea that a minor Muslim girl who has attained the age of puberty would fall out of its ambit.
While dealing with a petition seeking quashing of an FIR registered under sections 376 (rape)/506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of IPC and Section 6 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Pocso Act, Justice Jasmeet Singh said the Pocso Act protects children below 18 years of age and it is not specific to any customary law. The accused contended that since the survivor, a Muslim girl aged 16 years and 5 months on the date of the alleged incident, is recognised as a major under the Muslim Personal Law on account of having attained puberty, the Pocso Act was not applicable.
“The statement of the object of the Pocso Act states that the Act is aimed to secure the tender age of the children and ensure they are not abused and their childhood and youth are protected against exploitation. I reject the contention of the petitioner that according to Muslim law, since the victim has attained the age of puberty, the rigours of the Pocso Act will not be applicable,” the court said in its order dated July 6.
“Pocso is an Act for the protection of children below 18 years of age from sexual abuse and exploitation. It is not customary law specific but the aim of the Act is to protect children below the age of 18 years from sexual abuse,” it added.
As per the FIR, the petitioner had made physical relations with the girl after their engagement and subsequently refused to marry her. It was also alleged that the parents of the survivor gave Rs 1 lakh in cash, a silver chain, and several other items at the time of engagement of the petitioner and the victim. Subsequently, the father of the girl also allegedly gave a sum of Rs 10 lakh to the accused but he called off the marriage.
POCSO vis-à-vis SC/ST Act
POCSO has precedence/ HC
The Gujarat high court has held that the legislature has conferred precedence on the Pocso Act above the SC/ST Atrocities Act. This analysis from the HC on overriding effect of two special laws came when a question arose on which type of application should be filed in the high court after a sessions court rejected the bail application of an accused person.
In 2018, the HC had ruled that in cases involving the Atrocities Act, only appeal under Section 14A of the Atrocities Act lies, and application under Section 439 of the CrPC is not maintainable. One Vikram Malivad filed an application for bail in the HC after he was denied bail by the sessions court in connection with rape on a minor girl, which belonged to SC/ST category. The state government objected to filing of the application under Section 439 of CrPC. Malivad’s advocate Rahil Jain asserted that the common law, CrPC, is the only recourse for him to get bail because charges of Pocso Act were also invoked. This contentious issue required the HC to deliberate on whether the social status of the child will eclipse his or her well-being or safety. “The answer is apparent. The caste of a child cannot override or prejudice the security and well-being of a child. Thus, a bare glance on the laudable objects of the Pocso Act will illuminate its supremacy on the Atrocities Act, though both the Acts can be termed as special Acts.” TNN
Police case disposal pattern
At least four child victims of sexual abuse are denied justice every day while as many as 3,000 cases registered and probed under the Pocso Act fail to reach the courts for a fair trial every year, reveals a study by Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) study released on the International Women’s Day.
The study “Police case disposal pattern: An enquiry into the cases filed under Pocso Act, 2012’, is an analysis of pattern of disposal by police of Pocso cases during 2017-19.
The report is based on the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The NCRB data analysis is cited to say that in a large number (two-fifth) of Pocso cases they were disposed of by thepolice without chargesheet, the reason cited was ‘cases true but insufficient evidence, or untraced, or no clue’.
“Amongst other reasons, false reporting was the second most prominent reason for closure of Pocso cases. However closure of cases on this ground has reduced over the years from 40% in 2017 to 33% in 2019,” the report states. TNN
Punishment for crimes against children
Death sentence to rapists of children
Madhya Pradesh was the first state to pass a bill to award death sentence to rapists of children below 12 years but the Centre has been sitting on it for four months now.
Officials at the secretariat refused to come on record on why the bill is hanging fire, apart from a one-liner that it was pending with the President. While the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that it intended to amend POCSO to include death penalty in case of rape of a child younger than 12 years, the MP government has sought an amendment in IPC sections 376 (a) (a) and 376 (b)(a).
The first one is for rape of a child, for which the state government seeks 14 years to life imprisonment or death. The second one is for gangrape, for which it wants 20 years to life in jail or capital punishment. For crimes registered under IPC section 493 (a) — rape through lure of marriage — the state recommends three years’ jail.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday welcomed Delhi’s decision to amend POCSO and tweeted: “I believe rapists deserve strictest punishment and have no right to live in a civilized society. MP is the first state to introduce death penalty for rape of minor girls. I welcome the decision of the central government to amend POSCO Act to this effect.”
The MP assembly had unanimously passed ‘Dand Vidhi (Madhya Pradesh Sanshodhan) Vidheyak 2017’ bill in December last year.
The Congress supported the bill though it apprehended misuse of the tough law and shared child activists’ concerns that it might drive rapists to kill children to erase evidence.
Child vulnerable districts, state-wise
Himanshi Dhawan TNN
The Times of India, June 18, 2011
25% children run risk of losing parental support
A quarter of India’s children live in extremely vulnerable situations face the risk of losing parental care and support. A child in Orissa, Bihar or Jharkhand is more vulnerable to losing parental care than in any other part of the country.
A new study has found that 62 of the 100 child vulnerable districts in India fall in the country’s poverty belt — east zone — that includes states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.
The east zone includes 38.28% of the most vulnerable children followed by central zone (32.13%) and west zone (21.63%). The total estimated vulnerable children in India are approximately 11 crore which are 27% of the total child population below 18 years of age.
The estimation of child vulnerable districts and vulnerable children is part of a study by SOS Children’s Villages of India to enable it to target its future interventions in the vulnerable and needy geographic locations. Vulnerable children were defined as the ones most likely to lose parental care and support due to reasons like poverty, social unrest, HIV AIDS, disability and others.
SOS India general secretary Rakesh Jinsi said, “Besides economic reasons, social unrest and the political situation in states in the east zone have impacted child vulnerability. We have also noticed that vulnerability or the lack of parental support and care lessens as the children become older.’’
A large majority of children lose care and protection of parents between 14-15 years either due to abandonment, disease, death or displacement, he added.
The estimation of vulnerable children was done on the basis of census and population projection data. The study also found that districts with the maximum vulnerable child population included Murshidabad in West Bengal, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur in Bihar, Medinipur in Bengal and Nashik in Maharashtra.
The study also noted that while child population was declining in keeping with national population control strategies, the vulnerability of children continued to increase. The share of child population according to present estimates is 41% and is likely to come down to 37.1% in 2021. However, Jinsi said vulnerability among children was rising.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a span of three months, as many as 1,259 persons have found their way into a dossier prepared by the police of those who have been booked for sexually exploiting children under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso) in the four northern districts of the state.
The list of alleged offenders from Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Wayanad is part of an initiative by the police to launch a state-level dossier of those booked under the Act. The dossier contains all the details of those who have been booked, including previous offences, if any. “We initiated the process in August. All police stations have been asked to update the information to the crime drive of the police and it is an ongoing process,” DIG (Kannur range) K Sethuraman said.
Till date, the most number of entries are in Kannur, where data on 465 persons have been entered, followed by Kasaragod with 274, Kozhikode with 261 and Wayanad with 259. A similar exercise has been launched in other districts too. The central government had last year launched a national sex offenders’ registry, but that is not limited to Pocso cases. The police database in the state, meanwhile, will be dedicated to child-sex offenders, which will be then analyzed to conduct a study about the their backgrounds, educational qualifications etc, so that effective counter measures can be devised.
But even before the Centre launched its database, the state social justice department had already prepared a draft bill, ‘The Kerala Sex Offender Registration Bill, 2018’, for a database of sex offenders, but the move is currently on hold. As per the draft bill, every police station is duty bound to maintain a register of names and details of sex offenders within its territorial jurisdiction.
As per the draft, convicted sex offenders are obliged to have their names and details registered in the database. Offenders will be classified as those who pose low danger to the community, moderate danger and serious danger, and details of offenders will be maintained and their information in the register will be updated for one year, once every six months and once every three months, respectively, according to their classification. Also, the information provided will be retained in the registry for 15 years, 25 years and for life, as per the offenders’ risk profile.
The bill also prescribes the setting up of an ombudsman, before whom the offender can appeal for discharging his name from the database, after a prescribed period. The ombudsman can consider the case on the basis of behaviour and conduct, participation in social welfare programmes and other correctional indicators. The decision of the ombudsman can also be appealed before a court of law. “We have not discarded it. We had put it on hold after the Centre launched a sexual offenders’ register. As per our bill, the names will be registered in the database only if the person gets convicted and the conviction may take a long time. We are holding discussions to widen the scope of our bill and once we are ready, we will proceed further,” special secretary (social justice and women and child development) Biju Prabhakar said.
Kerala recorded the highest number of child sexual abuse complaints (1,742) among the states, followed by Tamil Nadu (985) and Maharashtra (443), according to 2018-19 data from Childline, a nationwide phone emergency outreach service for children in distress.
Supported by the Union ministry of women and child development, Childline “1098” covers 522 districts and 100 railways stations across India.
In 2018-19, nearly 60,000 abuse complaints were received from across India, of which those of child marriages topped the chart (37%). Physical abuse was next (27%), followed by sexual abuse (13%), emotional abuse (12%) and corporal punishment (4%). The top five districts that made child sexual abuse complaints were all from Kerala — Mallapuram, Thiruvananthpuram, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Kollam.
Child rights activist Priti Patkar said: “There is a lot of awareness being created at different levels and so there are more people coming forward to report. There is also a lot of access to information and therefore more disclosure.”
Of the 7,684 child sexual abusers reported to Childline nationwide, 35% of them were neighbours. Friends, family, neighbours, relatives, teachers, step-parents, caretakers and employers together constitute 73% of child sex abusers. “Children must be taught to say no and that it’s never his/her fault,” a counsellor said.
In 2018-19, Karnataka topped among states in number of child labour complaints — over 4,500.
Of the 35,500 child labour complaints received nationwide, begging constituted the highest (40%), followed by employment in restaurants and dhabas (21%).
Gender-based distribution of Childline’s interventions showed more instances of boys in conflict with law (85%) than girls (15%). More boys were reported missing (71%) as compared to girls (29%) and needed emotional support and guidance (62%) than girls (38%). But when it came to protection from abuse, more girls (56%) approached Childline as compared to boys (44%).