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  • Saturday, December, 2022| Today's Market | Current Time: 06:51:17
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, (POCSO Act) is acknowledged as one of the finest, most effective and balanced legislation to protect children from sexual offences. The Act is gender-neutral and was enacted with a vision to make justice easier for victims of sexual abuses. The Act also does not differentiate the accused in a POCSO case on the basis of gender. According to a report of Economist Intelligence Unit published in 2019 “India’s legal framework for protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation is ranked the highest” of 60 countries including “United Kingdom, Sweden, and Australia, the top three countries considered to have the best environment for children.” But it’s ironic; there is a move from the government of Kerala to have retired judicial officers in the POCSO Bench. Learned legal experts feel the government moves “a design to manipulate the POCSO Court in favour of their near and dear.”  Legal fraternity is readying to confront the state government “if it pursues the plan.” Speaking to PNI News Advocate Anayara Shaji, a senior lawyer, President of Trivandrum Bar Association and Member of the State Bar Council expressed his expostulations on deploying retired judicial officers as POCSO judges.

    Being a senior Lawyer what’s your thoughts on the state government’s decision to reappoint retired judicial officers in Fast Track Special Courts, including the POCSO Courts

    The decision is regressive and will jeopardize the very rationale of the POCSO Act, 2012 which was enacted with the purposeful intention of delivering justice with ease to the victims. The Government decision is condemnable. According to reports one in every two children is a victim of sexual abuse in India. The strict enforcement of the Act is the only effective deterrent. For this we need to have a proper, unbiased judicial Chair that cannot be influenced or manipulated.  In normal cases we cannot expect a retired judicial officer appointed by the government to be dispassionate to those in power.   Hence there are possibilities, justice to become the causality. The risk will be near to nil if the judicial officers are posted in sensitive Courts like POCSO. In fact POCSO court is a regular court and we fail to understand how and why a decision has been taken to re-appoint retired judges. If anyone suspects malafide motives in the decision we cannot squarely blame them.

    They were judging cases till their retirement, so how can you abruptly suspect their integrity?

    You need to understand that POCSO Courts are handling cases relating to rape and sexual abuses of children below 18 years of age.  The judges hearing such cases need to be of high integrity. A biased or erroneous judgment can have an irreparable impact on the victim. If appointments of judges to such sensitive courts are through the government the degree of risk will be high in the delivery of justice.  It’s for sure, if the accused in a POCSO case is related to or close to those in the government, there will be undue pressure mounted to scuttle or delay justice. Remember the words, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”  So it’s absolutely abhorrent, the government in power trying to influence the judicial system through appointing their favorites as judicial officers in sensitive courts handling POCSO cases. Such acts from the administration will undermine the very purpose of delivering justice to the victims. Please keep in mind, in POCSO cases the victims are sexually abused children.   

    Government cites shortage of experienced judicial officers as reason for reappointing retired judges.

    This is no sensible argument. The Fast Track and POCSO Courts are full-fledged courts with extensive criminal jurisdiction.  We cannot allow the executive to impose their supremacy or dictate terms to the judiciary.  If the selection and appointment of judicial officers are left to the choice of the executive, there is a risk of compromising justice. The judicial officers in Chair with the mercy of the government will be compelled to oblige the executive and the victims may not get due justice.

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