New Delhi, August 19: The Supreme Court recently directed the state of Uttar Pradesh to frame guidelines relating to appointment of support persons for minor victims of sexual offences under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. A bench comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar directed the Principal Secretary to the Department of Women and Child Welfare in Uttar Pradesh to convene a meeting with Chairperson of the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, Secretary of the State Legal Service Authority and other officials to frame Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) in this regard.
The bench noticed that the role of a ‘support person’ as envisaged in the POCSO Rules, 2020, remains unfulfilled or is given effect in a partial or ad-hoc manner, thus limiting its positive potential in offering support to victims and their families.
The Supreme Court, inter alia, directed the state government to frame guidelines relating to the educational qualifications of a support person and parameters to identify the eligible institutions or NGOs, which can be accredited to depute qualified support persons.
“It is important to acknowledge that support persons who are independent trained professionals, would need to take up tasks which require intensive interactions in often, hostile environments, and consequently deserve to be paid adequate remuneration,” observed the top court in its judgement.
It said that in crimes against children, true justice is achieved by support, care, and security to the victim or vulnerable witness, provided through state institutions and offices.
“Justice can be said to have been approximated only when the victims are brought back to society, made to feel secure, their worth and dignity restored. Without this, justice is an empty phrase, an illusion,” the apex court said.
The Supreme Court said that the POCSO Rules 2020, offer an effective framework relating to support persons ecosystem, adding that it is now left to the State government, as the biggest stakeholder, to ensure its strict implementation, in letter and spirit.
It directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file a report of compliance before October 04 and asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to submit a consolidated status report outlining the progress of all States in framing of guidelines.