The Delhi High Court on Friday sought a report about the number of pending sexual offence cases involving minors as victims to decide whether to issue a direction for appointment of special prosecutors specially for such matters.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw gave the direction while hearing a PIL alleging that the government has not appointed special public prosecutors (SPPs) to only handle the cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act here.
"Give us a report regarding the number of pending cases under the POCSO Act in Delhi. After seeing that we will able to ascertain whether independent special public prosecutors should be appointed," the bench said, while fixing the matter for further hearing on September 17. The court passed the order while hearing a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal in a pending PIL.
He has alleged that all the SPPs, who have been appointed to handle the cases under POCSO Act, are dealing with other criminal matters as well.
Bansal sought an urgent hearing of his plea, contending that as per the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights data, there were over 4000 cases pending under the POCSO Act in various district courts here and trial in these would be delayed if "independent or unattached" SPPs were not appointed to deal with them.
The lawyer has said that the powers of SPPs have been conferred upon Additional Public Prosecutors (APPs) to deal with cases pending in courts set up under the POCSO Act. He has contended the government's decision to confer the powers of SPPs on already attached APPs is contrary to the high court's orders to appoint special prosecutor for such cases alone.
"It is respectfully submitted that this court, through its various orders, has categorically directed the Government of NCT of Delhi to appoint Independent SPPs under the POCSO Act.
"However, despite of the court's intervention, the government has failed to implement the same in its letter and spirit," the application has alleged.
The lawyer, in his plea, has also contended that the government's May 15, 2014 notification conferring SPP powers on attached APPs "is nothing but merely an eyewash".
On April 16, the Centre had told the high court that it has given a go-ahead to the city government to appoint SPPs in each special court set up to handle sexual offence cases involving minors. The high court had thereafter asked the city government to appoint the SPPs within four weeks and disposed of the PIL.
It, however, had granted the liberty to seek revival of the PIL if the Delhi government failed to implement the order.