POCSO ordinance on death penalty for child rape a good step but lots more to be done, say citizens
- • Citizen Petition via LocalCircles had received 25,000+ signatures from across India
- • Petitioner Uma Ghurka & LocalCircles met with Minister, WCD to submit citizen ask
- • Want reforms in the area of investigation and judicial processes including time bound investigation and dedicated judges for POCSO cases
24th April 2018, New DelhiIn a news that would calm down some resentment amongst citizens post a series of child rapes across the country, President Ram Nath Kovind signed the executive order post cabinet approving the ordinance that calls for death penalty for child rape. Acknowledging the petition that was started on LocalCircles by the President of Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs, Mrs Uma Ghurka which got more than 25,000 signatures, the Centre had earlier passed an ordinance to amend the POCSO act and award death penalty to child rapists. LocalCircles had also conducted a survey to catch the citizen pulse on the POCSO Act.
According to this 6-poll Survey receiving more than 40,000 votes from across the country, a harshest of the harsh punishment is the first step but a lot more needs to be done to drastically reduce the cases of child rape. This was evident in the fact that on the day the President signed the ordinance, 10 cases of child rape were reported from across India.
The first question in the survey asked what the appropriate punishment for child rape should be. 76% respondents said it should be death penalty, 18% said life imprisonment without parole, 3% said it should be a 7-year jail term (current) and 2% could not decide.
76% citizens support death penalty for child rape
In the second poll, people were asked if they wanted their state to pass a law that awards death penalty within 6 months for cases of child rape. 89% agreed with it and said it should be done asap while 5% did not agree with it. 3% said yes and it is always done, while 3% were unsure about it. 4 states namely Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh have also passed a law that awards death penalty for child rape. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath too committed last week to seek centre’s support on the same for his state.
92% citizens support their state having a law that awards death penalty as punishment for child rape
One of the key issues highlighted by many citizens in the LocalCircles discussions was the resistance shown by local police to register an FIR when a case of sexual assault or child rape is presented to them. Citizens suggested that women officers may be more receptive to registering cases. When the same question was posed via a poll, 78% citizens were in support of every district level police station to have at least one women officer. 13% did not support it while 9% were unsure.
78% citizens in support of every district level police station to have atleast one women officer
In the next question it was asked as to what should be the maximum time taken by police to file a charge sheet in cases of a child rape, 28% said it should be done within 30 days and 25% said 45 days. 45% said it should be a maximum of 90 days whereas 2% were not sure. Overall 98% people want a charge sheet filed within 3 months by all means for cases of child rape.
98% should feel it should never take more than 90 days for the police to file a chargesheet in cases of child rape
Currently POCSO judges in district courts also handle other cases (outside child rape or child abuse and unrelated to children) thereby leading to delays in POCSO cases. The next question asked what should be done to resolve it. 65% said these judges should only handle POCSO cases in their district and other courts while 22% said these judges should only handle POCSO cases in their district court. 9% said they should continue to handle other cases in district court and 4% were not sure about it.
87% citizens want POCSO judges to only handle cases related to children
The next question asked considering the constraints of the Indian legal and judicial system, what should be the maximum time taken for justice in cases of child rape under POCSO act. 85% said it should be 6 months while 10% said it should be 12 months. Only 2% said it should be 18 months and another 2% were unsure about it.
85% citizens want justice to be delivered within 6 months in cases of child rape
Many citizens feel that with faster investigation and trial, chances are that conviction rates will go up. Currently according to citizens with conviction rates of 25% or so in POCSO cases, the fear of law is mostly missing. About a third of the cases where chargesheet was filed between 2012 and 2016 are still open. In addition, given the statistics, in 80% plus cases the offender is known to the victim’s family (relative, friend, neighbour), the longer the investigation and trial, higher are the chances of the victim’s family getting influenced. Citizens also feel that there is a strong need for awareness and outreach about the new law so the message reaches all sections of the society.