THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: State police chief Loknath Behera has directed the police officials to strictly follow the time frame, privacy and other norms prescribed by the Supreme Court and POCSO Act in cases pertaining to sexual offences against women and children. According to sources, as per the norms, trial in cases under the POCSO has to be completed within one year after registering the case. But in most cases, the chargesheet could not be filed in time owing to various reasons like delay in getting scientific examination reports.
The delay makes the witnesses reluctant to testify and leads to the escape of the accused, Mr. Behera said in a circular to the police officials. He said that there were flaws in the investigation of sexual assault cases. There were even instances of violation of established legal norms in the investigation.
Directing the investigation officers to be cautious while handling such cases, Mr. Behera also cited an instance of invoking a section of POCSO that warranted only five- year imprisonment in the case of a sexual abuse of a mentally challenged 15-year-old girl, whereas another section of POCSO that warranted life term could have been invoked. As per the norms, a woman who suffered a sexual assault should be immediately subjected to medical examination and produced before a magistrate within 24 hours for recording her statement under CrPC section 164. Minors who are victims of sexual offences should be provided emergency medical care in the presence of a guardian in whom the child has trust, Mr. Behera said.