A Division Bench comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice M.G. Uma delivered the verdict in Hanumantha Mogaveera Vs. State of Karnataka while answering the reference made by a judge on whether delay in recording of evidence of victim and completion of trial could result in favor of accused for enlargement on bail.
The High Court of Karnataka has held that the accused booked under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, cannot get benefit of release on bail if trial courts are unable to record evidence of the victim-child within 30 days or complete the trial within one year from the date of taking cognizance of offences.
The Court remarked that “The object and purpose of Section 35 of the POCSO Act is to ensure that the victim-child is secured from the trauma of trial of the case at the earliest so that she or he could be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society at the earliest. The said provision is not to be interpreted in favor of the accused so as to mandate release of the accused” and stated that non-compliance of Section 35 of the POCSO Act cannot be the basis for releasing the accused on bail as that would be a misreading of the provision.
The court issued a series of directions to the State government for effective Implementation Of POCSO Act and for the welfare of child victims:-
- Set up the requisite number of special courts to try cases under the POCSO Act
- Provide infrastructure and manpower for special courts
- Appoint exclusively trained prosecutors to handle POCSO cases
- A dedicated unit to be set up in every district hospital to attend to the victim and provide the proper medical facilities.
- Appoint adequate support persons to the child victims and conduct a study whether they are discharging their duties effectively and take immediate measures as per the study’s recommendations.
- Ensure availability of mental health professionals to every child, who could help the latter out of trauma, and for rehabilitation and reintegration. The cost of the same is to be borne by the state
- The presiding officers of all special courts to comply with Section 35 of the Act in the matter of recording of evidence of the child victim and the conclusion of the trial within the time stipulated under the said provision, so that the justice delivery system does not in any way contribute to the trauma, mental disturbance and anxiety of the child, which could lead to severe impact on the behavior and personality of the child
The court observed that these directions should be complied with on a timely basis, lest the object and purpose of the POCSO Act stand diluted on account of the non-implementation of its provisions in its true letter and spirit by the state and other stakeholders