Marking 10 years of POCSO, the Manipur High Court organised a ‘one-day state-level consultation on implementation of POCSO Act, 2012’ on Saturday at City Convention, Palace Compound, Imphal.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Justice of High Court of Manipur, Sanjay Kumar said that POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted when the cases of sexual abuse against children started to rise.
It contains provisions regarding the protection of children from sexual assault and pornography and lays down the procedure for the implementation of these laws.
For effective address of the evil of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse to children below 18 years of age, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was passed by Parliament in the year 2012.
The Chief Justice explained that the Act has been instrumental in providing a robust justice mechanism for the victims of sexual abuse and highlighted the significance of child rights and safety.
The reporting of child sexual abuse cases has also surged as a consequence of awareness.
The Act covers punishment for both non-penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault.
The Chief Justice mentioned that according to the ministry report of 2022, there are 47, 221 cases of POCSO in India.
For Manipur, in 2017 there were 29 POCSO cases registered, 32 were charge-sheeted and three cases were announced convictions. And in 2018, 43 cases were registered, 26 cases were charge-sheeted and four convicted.
In 2019, 58 cases were registered, 59 were charge-sheeted and five were announced convictions. In 2020, 75 cases were registered, 53 charge-sheeted and one convicted. In 2021, 231 cases were pending before the nine courts and 43 new cases registered.
He said for taking POCSO cases seriously, those persons who change their behaviour like abnormal sexual desire should treat psychotherapy and drug treatment. He also told the law enforcement agency to take the POCSO case seriously and investigate deeply.
Social Welfare minister, Heikham Dingo said that parental care becomes less in society and it affects moral character. Using drugs is also one of the factors for increasing POCSO cases. In Manipur, from April 2021 to October 2022 there are 161 POCSO cases registered, and there is the apprehension of increasing POCSO cases in the society.
“It is time to step up action for the protection of the increasing POCSO case”, said Dingo. However, while comparing with other states, the POCSO case in Manipur is not increasing much. Though certain practises or action should be taken up, he added.
Under the social welfare department, several measures like the establishment of State Child Protection Unit, District Child Protection Unit and also Juvenile Justice Board, Child Protection Committee for the protection of children from such heinous crimes, Dingo said.
While compared with hills, the number of POCSO cases is higher in the valley. It may be because there are unreported cases in the hill or cases are being solved under the customary law of the hill. It should be looked into, and cases should be reported to the law enforcement agency.
The awareness might be less in the hill districts, hence there is a need to take up more awareness in hill districts, he added.
The programme was attended by the High Court of Manipur justice MV Muralidaran, justice A Bimol, justice Kh Nobin and advocate general Lenin Hijam.
Meanwhile, a one-day legal awareness programme organised by the District Legal Services Authority, Tamenglong was held under the theme ‘government scheme and NALSA (protection and enforcement of tribal rights) scheme, 2015’ at Dolang Village, Community Hall, Noney District on Saturday.
The programme sponsored by Manipur State Legal Services Authority under the aegis of National Legal Services Authority was held as a part of ‘Empowerment of Citizens through Legal Awareness and Outreach- A pan India campaign.’
Advocate (Retainer Lawyer Imphal West) RK Imoba Singh who attended as a resource person spoke on the topic ‘government schemes’ and highlighted on various NALSA Schemes. He focused on NALSA (Effective Implementation of Poverty Alleviation Schemes) Scheme, 2015 and also elaborated about the persons entitled to get benefits under the National Food Security Act.
Advocate B Supriya as a resource person of the programme spoke on the Topic ‘NALSA (Protection and Enforcement of Tribal Rights) Scheme, 2015’. The scheme is for ensuring the tribal people in India access to justice, for protection and enforcement of their rights, she said.
Secretary of District Legal Services Authority, Tamenglong, L Rina Devi spoke on free and competent legal aid service and persons who are entitled to free legal aid.
She further appealed to all the participants to take part in the NALSA Module Mega Legal Awareness Camp for ‘Empowerment of Citizens through Legal Awareness and Outreach- A pan India campaign’ which will be held on Sunday at Multipurpose Hall, Longmai Part III, Noney.
The programme was attended by chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary of Village Authority, Dolang and villagers of Dolang, Noney District. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials were also distributed to all the participants.