Acting CJ takes serious note, passes clear directions for speedy disposal

859 POCSO cases pending in UTs of J&K, Ladakh
*Progress of Judicial Officers to be reviewed on monthly basis

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 8: Taking serious note of pendency of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Acting Chief Justice Tashi Rabstan has directed the Judicial Officers dealing with such cases to ensure strict compliance to the timeline fixed under the Act.
Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that in a meeting held through virtual mode with Special Judges designated under the POCSO Act of various districts of the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Acting Chief Justice Tashi Rabstan, who is also Chairperson of the Juvenile Justice Committee, took stock of the disposal of cases and award of compensation to the POCSO victims during the year 2022.
He expressed concern over pendency, delay in disposal of cases and non-awarding of compensation to the victims and urged all the judges dealing POCSO cases to decide the pending cases in a time bound manner. Moreover, he emphasized the need of awarding compensation to the victims strictly as per Rule 9 of the POCSO Rules, 2020 to provide relief and rehabilitation to the child victims, sources informed.
Pointing towards Section 35 of the POCSO Act, 2012, Justice Rabstan asked the Judicial Officers dealing with such cases to strictly comply with the timeline regarding disposal of cases. Moreover, he has decided to conduct review meetings on monthly basis to personally review the progress in clearance of backlog.
The Section 35 of the Act states: “The evidence of the child shall be recorded within a period of 30 days of the Special Court taking cognizance of the offence and reasons for delay, if any, shall be recorded by the Special Court, which shall complete the trial, as far as possible, within a period of one year from the date of taking cognizance of the offence”.
Rule 9 of the POCSO Rules read: “The Special Court may, in appropriate cases, on its own or on an application filed by or on behalf of the child, pass an order for interim compensation to meet the needs of the child for relief or rehabilitation at any stage after registration of the First Information Report (FIR). Such interim compensation paid to the child shall be adjusted against the final compensation, if any”.
As per the official figures, a total of 653 POCSO cases were pending in both the Union Territories as on January 1, 2022 and 278 more cases were instituted during the year. However, only 72 cases were disposed off during the year 2022 as a result of which there was pendency of 859 cases as on December 31, 2022.
As per the district-wise breakup, 77 cases were pending in Srinagar district as on December 31, 2022, 34 in Ganderbal, 87 in Anantnag, 37 in Kulgam, 21 in Shopian, 32 in Pulwama, 47 in Baramulla, 17 in Bandipora, 53 in Budgam, 6 in Kupwara, 168 in Jammu, 30 in Samba, 38 in Kathua, 20 in Poonch, 17 in Rajouri, 26 in Bhaderwah, 20 in Ramban, 14 in Kishtwar, 69 in Udhampur, 41 in Reasi, 4 in Leh and one in Kargil.
During the year 2022, compensation as per Rule 9 was provided only in respect of 33 cases while as no victim compensation was awarded in 177 cases. During the meeting, Member Secretary Legal Services Authority Amit Kumar Gupta informed the Acting Chief Justice that an amount to the tune of Rs 1.33 crore was disbursed to the child victims during the year 2022.
“Though the Acting Chief Justice has played his role by passing on necessary directions for speedy disposal of cases and disbursement of compensation yet the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is also required to pay serious attention towards the issue and try to establish more POCSO courts so that pendency is brought down to the desired level”, sources said.
The meeting chaired by Acting Chief Justice was attended by Shahzad Azeem, Registrar General, M K Sharma, Principal Secretary to the Chief Justice, Y P Bourney, Registrar Vigilance, Rajinder Sapru, Registrar Rules, Amit Kumar Gupta, Member Secretary J&K Legal Services Authority and ex-officio Member Secretary, Juvenile Justice Committee, Anoop Sharma, Registrar IT and Parveen Pandoh, Joint Registrar Judicial Jammu.