Study reveals 77.77% of POCSO cases were filed between Nov 2012 and Feb 2021

Uttar Pradesh has the highest pendency of POCSO cases and Tamil Nadu has the highest disposal rate
Representative image | Pic: Flickr
Representative image | Pic: Flickr

Based on a study on the ten-year-old law to protect children, there are three acquittals for each conviction in a POCSO case. The analysis showed that only West Bengal and Chandigarh's average conviction times fell within the Protection of Children From Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act's statutorily prescribed one-year window stated a PTI report.

A study titled 'A Decade of POCSO' was carried out by the Justice, Access and Lowering Delays an initiative by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, an independent think tank researching to make better laws and improve governance. The study was carried out in coordination with the World Bank's Data Evidence for Justice Reform (De Jure) initiative.

To understand the patterns of pendency and disposal, the study gathered metadata for 2.31 million POCSO cases and analysed roughly 4 lakh cases. With more than three-fourths, or 77.77%, of the total POCSO cases that were filed between November 2012 and February 2021 still pending, Uttar Pradesh has the highest pendency. Tamil Nadu has the highest disposal rate of all filings during the period, at 80.2%. "For every one conviction in a POCSO case, there are three acquittals. Acquittals are significantly higher than convictions for all of the states studied," it said as reported by PTI.

In Andhra Pradesh, acquittals outnumber convictions seven to one, whereas in West Bengal, they outnumber convictions five to one. The only state where the difference is minimal is Kerala, where convictions made up 16.49% of the total cases while acquittals made up 20.5%. According to the study, even though the number of open POCSO cases had been steadily rising over the years, their percentage had been declining until 2019. The study also noted that there was a significant increase in the number of pending cases between 2019 and 2020 which was 24,863 cases and that it may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on how courts operate, stated the PTI report.

Compared to the one-year time frame required by Section 35 of the Act, it took an average of 509.78 days, or roughly one year and five months, to resolve a POCSO matter, it claimed. According to the survey, Chandigarh and West Bengal are the only states where the typical time required for convictions is less than the legally required one year. 

"In most states, courts spend more time in hearing cases that ultimately end in conviction as compared to cases that end in acquittal," the study said. The data showed that the offenses of penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault, which are punishable by the Act with the harshest penalties, account for over 56% of all POCSO cases.

According to the survey, the rate of convictions in sexual harassment cases is the lowest, at 18.16%. In 22.9% of the 138 judgments analysed in detail by the initiative, the accused were known to the victims they were family members in 3.7% of the cases. 18% of these incidents featured a "prior romantic relationship" and 44% of the time, the relationship between the victim and the offender was not identified. Numerous recommendations from the study have been made, such as adding pertinent information about POCSO to the school curriculum and expanding the mention of hotlines like Childline. It has also been suggested that the legal consent age be lowered from 18 to 16 years old as reported by PTI.

Related Stories

No stories found.