In a significant order, the Bombay High Court on Thursday issued a slew of directives and guidelines to be implemented by probe teams, prosecution and also the special courts dealing with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni said these guidelines would ensure an enhanced participation of victims in criminal proceedings pertaining to sexual assault of minors.
The bench passed the order on a criminal public interest litigation (CRPIL) filed by activist Arjun Malge, who closely works with minor victims of sexual offences.
In his plea, Malge contended that the all the stake holders dealing with POCSO cases do not implement the law in letter and spirit.
Having considered the contentions, the bench said that the police, prosecution as well as the courts must make an effort to bring in the victim's family before the court to actively participate in the trial.
Accordingly, the judges issued a directive to the special juvenile police unit (SJPU) investigating POCSO cases to inform the court in written format, confirming the service of a notice to the family, guardian or the legal counsel of the victim.
Another directive has been issued to the director of prosecution to ensure that whenever an application for hearing is made before a competent court, it would be the duty of the prosecution to issue notice to the family, guardian or legal counsel of the family.
The courts, as per the fresh guidelines, dealing with POCSO cases must ensure that a notice is served to the victim's family or legal counsel. The judges said that the competent courts must pass a reasoned order if the notice isn't served or the victim doesn't participate before the court.
A further directive has been issued to the director general of police, superintendent of police, director of prosecution and also the lower courts to ensure that the fresh guidelines are implemented in letter and spirit.