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Representational Image

Mumbai: Taking note of the rise in sexual offences against children and the increase in the number of juveniles in conflict with the law, the Bombay High Court on Monday stressed on the need to ascertain the root cause of such issues. The HC accordingly directed the Maharashtra government to conduct a study on the social and psychological front and ascertain why children are being targeted. A division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Girish Kulkarni expressed shock over a recent incident of a sexual offence against an eight-month-old girl. The judges have accordingly sought data on POCSO cases, registered in the State since the last five years.

“Where are we heading? The way one’s thinking is degrading these days that they are not sparing even an eight-month-old girl. The reason for such a degradation of thinking needs to be ascertained. The government must find out why children are being targeted and also why more and more minors are turning into juveniles in conflict with the law,” Justice Patil said.

“We do not want to hear or come across such cases wherein children are exploited sexually. We just do not want such cases to take place. You (government) must undertake a study as to who get involved in such cases and why do they target innocent children,” Justice Patil added. The observations were made in response to submissions of Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, who informed the judges of the decision taken by the State police for constituting a Special Task Force (STF). He told the judges that this STF would be promptly investigating cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The judges further noted that the young generation has been exploited by their exposure to social media sites and other online portals. The judges stressed on the need to impart values in children. We are of the opinion that schools must compulsorily be asked to impart lessons on ethics and morals. They must be taught that if they do not become a good human being, then there is no use of them becoming a doctor, engineer or any other professional,” Justice Patil said.

The observations were made while hearing a suo moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) taken up by the judges to set up ‘ child-friendly’ courts across Maharashtra. The judges had taken up the PIL pursuant to directives of the Supreme Court of India asking all High Courts in the country to establish child-friendly courts and also to ensure implementation of the POCSO Act as well as the Juvenile Justice law, in letter and spirit. Meanwhile, Kumbhkoni told the judges that he has studied child-friendly courts in Delhi and that a similar pattern would be adopted.

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