POCSO: Over 2.4 Lakh Cases Pending In Fast Track Special Courts, Shows Research
New Delhi: There are 2,43,237 POSCO cases pending in India’s Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) till January 31, 2023. Even if no new case is added to this long list, the country will need at least nine years to clear this backlog. In some states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar, it could take more than 25 years to bring the pending cases to closure.
In 2022, the number of cases that resulted in conviction remained a mere 3 percent nationally, according to ‘Justice Awaits: An Analysis of the Efficacy of Justice Delivery Mechanisms in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse in India’, a research paper released by India Child Protection Fund (ICPF).
The paper further states that given the present scenario, while Arunachal Pradesh would take 30 years to complete the trials of cases pending under Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) as of January 2023, Delhi will take 27 years, West Bengal 25, Meghalaya 21, Bihar 26, and Uttar Pradesh 22 years to clear the backlog, The New Indian Express reported.
Notably, Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) are specialised courts with the primary aim of expediting the trial process of cases related to sexual offences, particularly those under POCSO. Set up in 2019, the Central Government recently approved the continuation of FTSCs as, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) 2026 with a budgetary allocation of over Rs 1900 crore. The scheme was supposed to deliver the legal mandate for the completion of trial of such cases within one year and yet out of the total 2,68,038 cases that were under trial, only 8,909 cases resulted in conviction.
The study highlights that each FTSC in the country on average disposes of just 28 cases per year, which means the expenditure in one conviction is around Rs 9 lakh. Each FTSC was expected to dispose of 41-42 cases in a quarter and at least 165 in a year. The data suggests that FTSCs are unable to achieve the set targets even after three years of the launch of the scheme,” the paper said, according to TNIE.
Citing Supreme Court’s judgement, the report further said that child marriage is child rape and as per Census 2011, a staggering 4,442 minor girls were married every day, which means every minute, three children were pushed into child marriage.
However, only three child marriages are reported every day, as per the latest National Crime Records Bureau data.