Pune: The police have missed another deadline in the sexual abuse case of a 5-year-old boy at an upmarket school in Undri. The case falls under the ambit of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and, under the act, the police are required to present the statement of the victim before a magistrate within 30 days of the FIR. Notably, the FIR was registered with the Kondhwa police almost two months ago.
While talking to the child one evening last year, the child non-verbally told his mother that the accused allegedly repeatedly molested and even sodomised him. Shocked, the mother had approached the school in August last year. The school offered counselling and filed an application with the Kondhwa police on October 9, 2017.
Section 21(1) of POCSO Act requires the police to register an FIR immediately on getting information about sexual abuse of a child. The police did not register an FIR after the school submitted the application, which has the stamp and signature of the duty officer. After a month of inactivity from the police, the mother of the child again approached the police on November 12 to file an offence. She too submitted a signed and stamped application to the police. The police again did not file an FIR, which is again a violation of the POCSO Act.
On December 8, when the mother went back to the police station with activists from Muskan and Association for Child Rights (ARC), the police finally registered an FIR. During the panchnama, the 5-year-old identified the room in the school where the offence allegedly happened. The police have since been trying to get the mother to get a medical examination of the child done, to which the scared mother has not consented.
The video statement of the child however was taken on December 13 after which the police were supposed to present the child before a magistrate for a statement. After two months, the police are yet to do that. “We have found many other things during the investigation. The mother has avoided many things. We can’t reveal our findings, but we are carrying out the investigation,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 4) Deepak Sakore, told Sakal Times.
When asked about the negligence by the police, Sakore said, “We have followed all procedures under CrPC after the FIR was registered.” But legal experts say that the onus of the delay lies on the police. “The police should have registered the offence right after the first application by the school in October,” said Asha Bajpai, India chair for United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.
Explaining the procedure further, Bajpai said, “The child and the parent should have been offered a counsellor and a female police officer should have taken the child’s statement at a place of choice of his parents. If the parent was not consenting for a medical check-up of the child, they should have offered her counselling.”
“If the police have a suspicion that the mother has filed a false complaint, they should let the courts decide. But if they did not file an FIR after receiving information in October as well as November, it is a violation under section 21(1) of POCSO and section 166 (a). The POCSO Act takes precedence over the CrPC in this case,” said Advocate Anjali Pawar.