Guwahati, Oct 22: President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday stressed the need to address the challenges in implementing the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.
POCSO is one of the recent initiatives for protection of children in India.
The president said this while inaugurating a seminar on “Continuing legal education” and “Children and law; Juvenile justice system, including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012″ here.
The Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim organised the seminar to mark the end of its golden jubilee celebrations.
“POCSO was introduced in 2012 to put in place a strong system for protecting children from any form of sexual abuse,” Mukherjee said, adding there was a need for such legislation as statistics revealed that sexual crimes against children were increasing steadily.
“The incidence of minors getting raped in the country were seen to be on the rise over the past six years and in 2012, the figures touched the shocking number of 8,541,” he said. The president added that the act was in place for over a year but several implementation challenges have emerged.
“These need to be urgently addressed in order to make this legislation truly effective. The government has introduced in 2009 an Integrated Child Protection Scheme to implement the Juvenile Justice Act. This scheme creates a safety net of service delivery structures at national, state and district level, puts in place a cadre of trained personnel working exclusively on child protection, provides a range of need-based services for each child and brings together existing initiatives and new measures for protection,” he said.
“However, reports such as the recent Justice Verma Committee report point out that the system often fails to comprehensively address the needs of the people it has been created to protect – our children. Sadly, lack of information and sensitivity amongst service providers is among the principle reasons for the failure of the system,” he said, adding there is a need for greater awareness of POCSO on the part of adults, parents, caregivers, teachers and people in positions of authority.
“Service providers at all levels also need to be sensitised and their capacities built,” he said, adding the bar councils could richly contribute to strengthening implementation of this legislation and ensuring the operation of an effective, just, child sensitive juvenile justice system.
Mukherjee also admitted there is an urgent need for reform in the country’s judicial system and added the process of reform must begin with an assessment of the country’s needs that the legal profession seeks to fulfil.
“Our approach to reform must be guided by a thorough understanding of current shortcomings and future needs of the system. Historically, the focus of judicial reform has been the judiciary. The lawyer – a basic pillar of the judicial system – has often been ignored,” he said, adding that continuing legal education and professional development must create a socially sensitive lawyer of conscience for whom justice delayed is not a commercial opportunity but a blemish on one’s professional persona and a failure of the system of which one is an integral part.
He also explained the various judicial reforms in the country and said continuing legal education centres such as judicial academies should be set up for enabling judges to keep abreast of emerging areas of law, such as cyber laws, intellectual property matters and issues pertaining to computers and internet.