Punjab to have 9 more fast-track courts under POCSO Act

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Chandigarh, Feb 15 (PTI) Nine more fast-track courts under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act will be set up in Punjab, the state government decided on Monday.

The decision was taken in an inter-departmental meeting of the state government. The meeting decided on a slew of measures to strengthen investigation and prosecution machinery to handle criminal offences against women and children.

Besides, Sexual Assault Response Teams in all districts of the state to deal with cases of sexual assault on women will also be set up, according to a government statement issued here.

At the virtual meeting, Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan directed officials to clear the pendency of cases related to women and children from 2016 to 2020 through investigations on priority, the statement read.

She also directed the officials to lay down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to fast-track the investigation of sexual offences against women and children by specifying the roles and responsibilities of all departments with regard to such cases.

She directed the Home department to expedite the establishment of nine other fast-track courts, for which approval has been granted by the government, in addition to the three such courts already operational in Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

Seven fast-track courts dealing with rape cases are already functional in the state.

Mahajan also ordered that a State Level Committee, headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) – Home be constituted to review the monthly progress of pending cases.

She directed the health, police and prosecution departments to appoint a nodal officer for better inter-departmental synergy to deal with investigation of criminal cases related to women and child, and also manage the necessary programmes for training of personnel in this regard.

The meeting was attended by Punjab Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta, Social Security and Women and Child Development Principal Secretary Raji P Shrivastava, Health and Family Welfare Principal Secretary Hussan Lal, among others.

The Chief Secretary announced that the state government will also recruit additional scientific officers and forensic experts to ensure faster disposal of cases pending with the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).

She added that the process of approval to provide compensation to the victims will also be eased so that such payments are made without any delay.

Mahajan informed the meeting that to mark the International Women's Day on March 8, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will be launching various projects for the welfare of women and children.

DGP Gupta told the meeting that the police department plans to set up Sexual Assault Response Teams to deal with sexual assault cases, besides holding weekly meetings to discuss and monitor progress of all such cases under investigation cases.

For proper utilisation of the Nirbhaya funds, the Punjab Police will upgrade forensic gadgets, mobiles and IT equipment etc to deal with online cyber offences against women and children, the DGP said. PTI CHS VSD CK