New Delhi: The Kerala High Court has decided to issue general guidelines, expressing concern over the lack of professionalism in the police investigation into POCSO cases, relating to the investigation and trials to protect survivors from secondary victimization and ensure that the justice delivered is effective and meaningful.
Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar, while dealing with a POCSO case, observed that certain disturbing facts concerning the investigation and trial of the cases had come to the court’s notice.
The court also observed that POCSO cases were being investigated by police personnel who were not informed of the rights of the children or trained to deal with children and members of their family in a child-sensitive manner. Lack of professionalism was writ large in the investigation.
The judge pointed out that the guidelines published by the state government in 2015 in this regard were not available in the public domain even now. The State Legal Services Authority, which was to play a pivotal role in the implementation of the guidelines, had not even taken note of the guidelines. In fact, lack of awareness of the guidelines among the stakeholders was adversely affecting the investigation and trial of the POCSO cases, the court added.
The court took note of the fundamental flaws in the investigation, such as non-collection of legal evidence, to prove the age of the victims for want of awareness of the relevance of such evidence. Besides, evidence was not collected to establish the sexual abuse through behavioural indicators or to explain the trauma-induced counter-intuitive behaviour of the victim, thereby making the child a witness without credibility. No mechanism was adopted by the investigation offices to cross-check the veracity of the statements, including subjecting the children to psychological/psychiatric consultations.
The court also observed that lawyers were not engaged for the victims or the service of the lawyers had not been provided by the legal services authority as provided under the government guidelines.
The court asked the Public Prosecutor and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority to express their views on the issue.
The Court has ordered to list this matter for further hearing on August 25.
-India Legal Bureau