To spare a sexually abused child from further harassment of court proceedings, amendments made to the Pocso Act provide for all trials to be completed in a time-bound manner in special fast-track courts (FTCs) set up specifically for this purpose across the country.
Despite the fact that there is at least one special FTC in every district and trials are to be completed within a year, the pendency of Pocso cases has gone up by over 170% since 2016 — from 90,205 cases till December 2016 to 2,43,237 cases till January 2023.
“To ensure speedy disposal of cases related to sexual offences against women and children, a two-month time limit each for probe and trial is prescribed through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, vide Sections 173(1A) and Section 309 of CrPC,” law minister Kiren Rijiju informed Parliament in response to a question in the recently concluded budget session.
Maharashtra has the second highest number of pending cases at 33,000, followed by West Bengal with 22,100; Bihar 16,000; Odisha 12,000 and Telangana and Madhya Pradesh with 10,000 cases each.
Delhi (with 9,108 pending cases), Rajasthan (8,921), Assam (6,875), Haryana (4,688) and Jharkhand (4,408) figure among the top 13 states with large pendency of cases.
There are 764 special FTCs, set up with central funding, to deal with Pocso and rape cases, including 411 special FTCs dedicated exclusively for Pocso Act cases. These courts have been disposing of 1.4 lakh cases a year.