Investigating agencies, prosecutors & Special Courts directed to protect privacy and other basic human rights of child sexual abuse victims

Calcutta High Court: While deciding the instant appeal wherein the appellant was accused and convicted of sexually abusing a minor girl which is punishable under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, the Bench of Joymalya Bagchi, J., laid down directives to the investigating agencies, prosecutors and the Special Courts so that they follow the spirit of the provisions laid down in the POCSO Act and CrPC in order to preserve the fundamental right of dignity of a child victim and their other basic human rights. The Court laid special emphasis upon the protection of privacy (namely identity) of child sexual abuse victims during the course of investigations and trials. The directives are as follows:

  • Officer-in-Charge of the police station and the investigating officer in the case including the Special Juvenile Police Unit shall ensure that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in the course of investigation, particularly at the time of recording statement of the victim. The investigating agency shall not disclose the identity of the victim in any media and shall ensure that such identity is not disclosed in any manner whatsoever except the express permission of the Special Court in the interest of justice. It was further directed that the identity of the victim particularly his/her name, parentage, address or any other particulars that may reveal such identity shall not be disclosed in the judgment delivered by the Special Court unless, such disclosure of identity is in the interest of the child.

  • Police Officer or the Special Juvenile Police Unit receiving complaint as to commission or likelihood of commission of offence under the POCSO Act shall register the same and furnish a copy free of cost to the child and/or his/her parents.

  • If the child is unable to arrange for his/her legal representation, the child shall be referred to the District Legal Services Authority for necessary legal aid/representation under Section 40 of the POCSO Act.

  • The Police Officer on registration of FIR shall promptly forward the child for immediate emergency medical aid, whenever necessary, and/or for medical examination.

  • Trial of the case shall be held in camera and evidence of the victim shall be promptly recorded without unnecessary delay. The Special Court shall not permit any repetitive, aggressive or harassing questioning of the child particularly as to his/her character assassination, which may impair the dignity of the child during such examination.

  • The quantum of the compensation shall be fixed taking into consideration the loss and injury suffered by the victim and other related factors as laid down in Rule 7(3) of the POCSO Rules, 2012 and shall not be restricted to the minimum amounts prescribed in the Victim Compensation Fund.

  • The Special Courts to ensure that the trials under POCSO Act shall conclude as expeditiously as possible preferably within a year from taking cognizance of the offence and without granting unreasonable adjournment to the parties.

[Bijoy v. The State of West Bengal, 2017 SCC OnLine Cal 417, decided on 02.03.2017]

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