Respond to PIL on lack of POCSO implementation: Bombay HC to Maharashtra

The Bombay high court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) complaining about the lack of implementation of certain provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

A bench comprising chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni has asked the government to file its affidavit in a reply to the PIL filed by social activist Arjun Malge complaining about the lack of implementation of certain provisions of the POCSO Act which mandate that the police must report all developments in a case, such as the arrest of the accused, applications filed before courts in connection with the case, etc.

His counsel, advocate Som Shekhar Sundar pointed out to the high court that Section 40 of the POCSO Act confers the right of engaging legal counsel of their choice on the family or guardian of the child (victim of the crime) and Rule 4(13) of the POCSO Rules, 2020 mandate the police keep them informed about the developments in the case.

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Sundar complained that there was no implementation of these legal provisions in Maharashtra and the study conducted by the petitioner revealed that “these provisions are followed more in breach than in practice in the state,” said the lawyer.

He also mentioned several orders passed by various special POCSO courts in Mumbai, none of which mentioned any notice having been sent to the child or his or her family about the legal proceedings.

Sundar also pointed out that Orissa and Manipur high courts have passed appropriate orders in this regard, and urged the high court to issue a circular to the lower courts in Maharashtra to be mindful of the legal provisions and the rights of the children.

The high court, however, thought it necessary to first ask the state government for its response to the PIL, and posted the PIL for further hearing on October 13.

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