A plea was filed in Bombay High Court seeking directions to special courts under Protection of Children under Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in Mumbai to record statements of minor victims within two months. The Bombay High Court directed the petitioner to approach the ad hoc committee of the high court.
The petitioner, Rashmi Taylor, had filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to record the evidence of the victim and witnesses in a particular POCSO case of 2018 within 2 months. The petitioner herself was appointed as a “support person” for a 13-year-old victim. The petitioner pointed out that charges were framed by court against the accused in that case only after three years of filing the chargesheet.
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Apart from expeditious disposal of POCSO cases, the petitioner also sought direction to record evidence of all victims in all POCSO matters within 30 days of court taking cognizance of offence, as far as may be possible.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar asked advocate Mihir Desai representing the petitioner’s lawyer to approach an ad-hoc committee constituted of High Court judges seeking suggestions to ensure early recording of victim statement and expeditious disposal of trials under the POCSO Act.
The court held that since the nature of prayers in the petition could over step legislative functions, it deemed appropriate to not exercise its writ jurisdiction in the plea. The bench said, “We consider it appropriate to grant opportunity to petitioner who has been working to uplift victims of sexual assault to approach the ad-hoc committee of high court and address their grievance before the committee.”
The bench informed Desai that the ad-hoc committee included High Court judges Justices Revati Mohite Dere, AS Gadkari and Bharati Dangre. The bench further said, “The petitioner can approach the committee with suggestions and that can be taken care by. The committee can issue directions, before we pass judicial orders. It is the end that matters, not the means.”
The petitioners were granted opportunity to approach the committee and thereafter, if required, approach the Chief Justice on the administrative side for further orders.
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