The Kerala high court on Wednesday issued detailed guidelines for investigation and trial of POCSO cases, in an effort to prevent further victimization of victims during the process.
The guidelines were issued by justice PB Suresh Kumar in Crl. Appeal No. 1087 of 2019. The guidelines include:
State government should take immediate steps to make One-Stop Support Centres, as directed by SC, operational so victims need not go anywhere else.
State government should appoint a nodal officer within two months to coordinate various departments in implementing POCSO Act. The officer should resolve all issues and act as single-point contact with government.
Nodal officer should coordinate training of various stakeholders, including police, in juvenile justice principles. Judges of POCSO courts also to be trained, including training of UNICEF. Special prosecutors should also be trained.
State government should consider making Child Protection Officers and Child Welfare Officers in police a separate cadre so that they will act in that capacity wherever they are posted. If not, ensure that such officers are posted in every police station.
State government to immediately fill vacancies in forensic science laboratories so that investigation and trials in POCSO cases are not affected.
State police chief to designate woman IPS officer in every district to ensure that cases under POCSO Act adhere to the Act’s provisions. Such officer to ensure that investigation is only conducted by officers trained in juvenile justice principles.
Statements of victims to be audio or video-recorded by magistrate or police officer.
Designated IPS officer to ensure that evidence to prove sexual abuse through physical as well as behavioral indicators are also collected in every case, that medical evidence is consistent with statements of the children, that satisfactory evidence to prove guilt has been collected, and that statement of the child is voluntary. Experts in psychology and psychiatry to be included as witnesses.
The guidelines were issued by the court after considering submissions made by senior public prosecutor Suman Chakravarthy, KELSA's counsel S Manu, and advocates Ranjith Marar, Sandhya Raju, and CP Udayabhanu. Statements were filed in the case by Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch and director of Women and Child Development Department of the state government.
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