THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Considering the increasing number of child abuses in Kerala, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission recommends strengthening punishments for crimes against children.
Expressing concern over the declining conviction rates in child abuse cases, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission has written to the Kerala High Court and the Home Department, seeking their intervention in addressing the issue.
K. Byjunath, the acting chairperson and judicial member of the State Human Rights Commission, made this recommendation after hearing a Public Interest Petition filed to address the decreasing conviction rate in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) cases. The Commission has forwarded a comprehensive report submitted by the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP – Law and Order) regarding the decreasing conviction rates in POCSO cases to the Registrar of the Kerala High Court and the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department.
The reasons cited for the decreasing conviction rate in POCSO cases include:
During the trial, victims and witnesses alter their testimonials/statements in favor of the accused.
Out-of-court settlements by the victim and relatives involving monetary compensation and other benefits from the accused.
Delays in completing investigations and the failure to gather evidence against the accused.
Lapses in supervision on the part of senior officials during the investigation and trial.
The report submitted to the ADGP by the Law and Order Department has been forwarded by the Human Rights Commission to the Registrar of the Kerala High Court and the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department for further action.
The ADGP’s recommendations to increase conviction rates include:
Recording the survivors’ statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to prevent them from being changed at later stages.
Using circumstantial and scientific evidence to establish that the crime has been committed, rather than relying solely on oral evidence.
Collecting and submitting the results of chemical examinations, scene plans, birth and medical examination certificates without delay, along with the charge-sheets.
Emphasizing the need to consult the investigation officer on the gathered evidence and seek legal advice to ascertain its relevance before filing the charge sheet.
Appointing a competent woman police officer with a clear understanding of the POCSO Act as a permanent assistant during trials of such cases.
Mandating district police chiefs to review the progress of POCSO case investigations during monthly crime conferences and monitoring whether the accused attempts to influence the victim or witnesses.