Allahabad High Court directs State, JTRI to draw up standardised evaluation system to assess mental condition of POCSO victims

The Court said the reports of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) under the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act are often deficient and not in conformity with the rules.

The Allahabad High Court recently directed the Uttar Pradesh government and the Judicial Training & Research Institute (JTRI) at Lucknow to create a standardised evaluation system to determine the mental condition of child sexual abuse victims [Siddhant @ Aashu vs State Of U.P. And 3 Others]

Justice Ajay Bhanot said the reports of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) under the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) are often not in conformity with rule 4 of the POCSO Rules, 2020.

Rule 4 provides for preparation of a report by CWC on the condition of the victim and need for their care and protection.

The Court said the “dysfunctions” of CWCs and “neglect” in their reports stymies the operation of the POCSO Act and degrades the quality of justice for child victims of sexual abuse.

Therefore, the Court opined that a standardised line of enquiry will provide the basis for the CWC to engage with the child and to create a report contemplated under Rule 4 of the POCSO Rules.

The Judicial Training & Research Institute, Lucknow, in consultation with the State Government, institutions of higher legal learning, institutions of higher research and education, institutions of special expertise like NIMHANS, CWCs and other experts in the field shall create a standardized evaluation system/line of enquiry to determine the mental condition of the victims of offences under the POCSO Act, 2012 and to provide for their rehabilitation,” the Court said.

The Court also directed the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences to create standardised evaluation enquiries or templates for determining the mental health and rehabilitation measures of a child victim of sexual offences.

The Court further directed the JTRI to create appropriate standardised evaluation formats or templates after consultation with State, CWCs and other institutions.

The CWCs shall use them for drawing up the reports, the Court added. The exercise was ordered to be completed within four months.

The Court also directed the State to urgently evaluate and upgrade infrastructure available with the CWCs to facilitate discharge of their statutory functions.

“Remedial action has to be taken by the State Government on an urgent basis,” it said.

The Court passed the directions while granting bail to a person accused in a POCSO case in which the victim turned hostile during trial.

Justice Bhanot said the CWC report in the case did not depict examination of socio-economic circumstances of the victim and of the accused persons.

The Court also questioned the process of appointment of the support person in the case and flagged the omission to highlight the mental condition of the victim in the CWC report.

These shortcomings had far reaching consequences on the trial. Protection and rehabilitation needs of the child victim in this case were absent in the report,” the Court said.

Considering the importance of the CWC reports in respect of child victims, the Court said it was imperative that CWC report should be placed before the trial court as well as High Court for consideration at the time of hearing of the bail applications.

CWC reports play a critical role in the implementation of various protective measures and other entitlements of victims under the POCSO Act, 2012 read with POCSO Rules, 2020,” it said.


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