IMPHAL: Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) has urged the state government to set up Fast Track Special Courts in every district and to ensure speedy trial of POCSO Cases.
Briefing reporters at Manipur Press Club, MCCR member Kesham Pradipkumar said that even though “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” perceives as a high-sounding national flagship programme, the girl children in Manipur are not totally “safe”, since chains of Child Sexual Assault (CSA) cases targeting the minor girls even in schools, boarding and hostels, within community have continued to occur now and then. In a year, on average around 78 Child Sexual Assault (CSA) cases were reported in Manipur (2013 to 2019), while in India a total 24,212 rape cases were registered during a six months period i.e. between January 1, 2019, and June 30, 2019 according to National Crime Records Bureau).
Keeping the increasing magnitude of crime against children in mind, MACR is saddened to see some crucial existing gaps in the preventive approaches of Child Sexual Assault (CSA) cases. One paramount example is the unhurried and seemingly unprogressive momentum on setting up of Village Level Child Protection Committees (VLCPCs) in all the notified villages of Manipur which is supposed to be implemented under ICPS, a flagship scheme. Since 2014-15, MACR has successfully setup some 88 Village Level Child protection (VLCPs) in the state. 21 VLCPs have been set up in Chandel while 16 in Senapati, 29 in Ukhrul, 5 in Bihsnupur, 10 in Churachandpur out of the total 98 VLCPs in the State.
DCPUs in the state are facing financial crunch to speed up VLCPCs formulation and formalization process, as they don’t have specific budget for the task under ICPS. Though, VLCPs are one of the effective mechanisms to prevent and response to various child rights violation cases particularly CSA and child trafficking in community level, the irony is, ICPS do not allocate any budgetary support for VLCPs. MACR raised the said issue and urged to allocate adequate budgetary provision for VLCPs in recent National Voluntary Review (NVR) on Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) both in National and Regional Conferences held in New Delhi and Imphal respectively, he said.
While reiterated the need for disbursement of Victims’ Compensation for the rape victims without further delay, he said that non -payment of compensation to the family of a 4 years old deceased girl, who was raped and murdered on 25th December, 2015 in Senapati District stands as a conspicuous example of such disgraceful procedure . The final judgment of the said trial was announced on 1st August, 2018 with recommendation of compensation. The judgment became so historic, since the accused David was given death penalty, for he allegedly strangulated after sexually assaulting the 4 year old minor girl. MACR demands to do justice by disbursing the due compensation to the deceased family through completing any pending procedure for whatever the reason may be.
The mandate of the section 9 (a) of The Manipur Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018, which says “ After verifying the claim, the District Legal Services Authority shall after due enquiry award compensation within two months from the date of recommendation of the court or application received from the victim subject to the provisions contained hereinafter” is not duly complied with in other cases of releasing victim’s compensation, as much more time has been taken to release the recommended compensation for one or the other reasons giving lot of mental harassment, inconveniences to the victims, their families and support persons, he contended.
India has 1.66 lakh pending cases of crime against women and children across the country. For quick disposal of the pending cases, Supreme Court on November 13, 2019 directed to set up a total of 1,023 Fast Tract Special Courts ( FTSCs) , out of which 389 courts are to exclusively handle cases registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Furthermore, the Criminal Amendment (Law) Act, 2018 mandated to complete rape trial within 2 months from the filing of charge sheet, besides, proving mandatory completion of investigation by police within 2 months. However, in an average, CSA cases in Manipur are found pending in courts more than three years, after the case got registered. The lengthy trial process eventually gives traumatic and painful experience to the survivors and their families. Many victims went hostile as they were unable to cope up with emotional distress caused by secondary victimization, the unfriendly court environment and attitudes, apart from various societal stigma and other pressures. The situation becomes more vulnerable as Manipur state does not have any Fast Tract Special Court (FTSCs) for trial of POCSO cases. A holistic rehabilitation comprising of trauma counseling, ensuring fut support persons to the victims from the beginning to the end of the trial, social mainstreaming, educational and vocational support as per need, for the rape victims are highly called for, he said.
To disburse the compensation timely, to complete the trial within a stipulated time, and to prevent occurrence of frequent CSA cases in the state, MACR strongly urged upon the concerned state authorities to setup Fast Track Special Courts in every district for speedy trial of POCSO Cases, to Complete the CSA cases within a stipulated time as mandated by the related Laws, to ensure child friendly environment and open special child friendly court rooms in every POCSO Court, to ensure early disbursal of recommended interim and final victim’s compensation without further delay and cumbersome process as per the provisions of the Manipur Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018, to give Special training to the Police, Support Persons and Judicial Officers on victim friendly approaches and to ensure speedy trail of Sexual Assault Cases. 5. Synergize the key stakeholders Le. Social Welfare Department, Deputy Commissioners, MSLSA/ DALSA, Home Department and generate a One Window solution system for resolving any undue de1ay, while disbursing recommended Victims’ Compensation in CSA cases.
It also demanded that the State should allocate adequate funds for setting up and running Village Level Child Protection Committees (VLCPCs) in all the villages of the state, to prevent and response to Child Sexual Assault Cases, Child Trafficking, Child Substance Abuse, School drop-out cases and other child protection issues on priority.
Montu Ahanthem, Convener MACR also attended the press meet.