‘True justice’: SC stresses on ‘care and support’ for child victims

- August 20, 2023
| By : Patriot Bureau |

The bench noted that in cases of crimes against children, the enduring trauma is worsened by the absence of support and guidance following the initial horror

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has emphasized that achieving true justice in cases involving crimes against children is not solely achieved by apprehending the wrongdoer or imposing harsh penalties, but also by ensuring proper support and security for the victim.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar made this observation while issuing directives related to appointing support persons under the POCSO Act.

A “support person” is someone designated by the Child Welfare Committee to assist the child during the investigative and trial processes. The bench noted that in cases of crimes against children, the enduring trauma is worsened by the absence of support and guidance following the initial horror.

According to the bench, genuine justice goes beyond apprehending the perpetrator and delivering punishment; it entails offering the victim (or vulnerable witness) support, care, and protection throughout the investigation and trial phases. The bench highlighted the significance of support and care provided by state institutions during this critical period.

The court asserted that justice is only truly realized when victims are reintegrated into society, feel secure, and have their worth and dignity restored. The court urged strict implementation of the POCSO Rules 2020 by the State to achieve these goals.

Recognizing the unmet role of a “support person” under the POCSO Rules, the bench stressed the necessity of ensuring the effective functioning of the POCSO Act and the mechanisms it establishes. The apex court instructed the Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary, Department of Women and Child Welfare, to evaluate the state’s capabilities for the support persons ecosystem within six weeks.

Furthermore, the court directed the Centre and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to submit an affidavit outlining guidelines by October 4, 2023. The court called for a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to guarantee proper implementation of Rule 12 of the POCSO Rules, 2020, for reporting by Child Welfare Committees on specific information collected monthly. This includes details about cases involving support persons engaged in trials and inquiries, along with their source (DCPU or external NGO).

Acknowledging the demanding tasks carried out by trained support persons in often challenging environments, the court stressed the importance of paying them suitable compensation. While the Rules mention payment equivalent to a skilled worker’s wage, the court recommended considering the qualifications and experience of these professionals in comparison to government-employed individuals with comparable qualifications. This aspect should be discussed during the meeting convened by the principal secretary.

(With PTI inputs)