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POCSO trials: Delhi High Court issues guidelines on presence of victims in courts

03:52 PM Jan 19, 2023 IST | India Legal
pocso trials  delhi high court issues guidelines on presence of victims in courts

Noting that the presence of victims in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) cases in courts during hearing of bail applications of the accused could have an adverse impact on her psyche, the Delhi High Court recently issued a set of guidelines in respect thereof.

Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that the psychological impact on a POCSO victim being present in court when arguments regarding the offence were taken up for hearing is grave as there are allegations and accusations in respect of the integrity and character of the victim and her family.

“The presence of the prosecutrix victim in Court at the time of arguments, according to me, has an adverse impact on the psyche of the prosecutrix. The prosecutrix is forced to be present in Court with the accused, who is the same person who has allegedly violated her. It was felt that it would be in the interest of the victim that she is not traumatized again and again by re-living the said incident by being present in Court proceedings,” opined the court, while issuing the following guidelines:


• The Investigating Officer (IO) shall ensure timely service of notice of bail application on the victim, so that she gets reasonable amount of time to enter appearance and make her submissions.
• The IO, while serving notice/summons of the bail application to the victim, shall make relevant inquiries about the victim and her circumstances and shall document the same in order to assist the court in the hearing of the bail application and to facilitate effective representation and participation on behalf of the victim. The IO should ensure that while making such enquiries the victim is not made to feel uncomfortable or questioned like an accomplice to a crime.
• The victim can be produced virtually before the Court. Victim and the accused shall not come face to face in this manner and this can prevent the re-traumatization of the victim.
• If the victim gives it in writing that her counsel or parent or guardian or support person shall appear on her behalf and make submissions on the bail application, insistence on her physical or virtual presence shouldn’t be made. A written authorization of the victim authorising another to make submissions on her behalf (after victim is duly indentified by the IO) and said authorization is forwarded by the SHO, should suffice.
• If the victim has appeared in court on one date of hearing of a bail application, her presence on subsequent dates can be dispensed with and her counsel or parent or guardian or support person representing the victim in court can be permitted to make submissions on her behalf.
• In certain exceptional cases, in- chamber interaction with the victim can be done and her submissions qua the bail application can be recorded in the order sheet passed on that day, so that the same maybe considered at a later stage.
• While recording the submissions/ objections/ statement of the victim qua the bail application, appropriate questions may be put to the victim to elicit her responses. Such questions can be put to her which assist the court in ascertaining what her apprehensions and fears are in case the accused is granted bail in the matter, for bail is to be granted by the Court concerned on the basis of overall appreciation of facts and circumstances of the case and in the light of well settled principles governing the grant of bail.
• Whenever the victim comes to court for a hearing on the bail application, the support person provided to her should be present with her so as to provide the necessary psychological or logistical support to the victim.
• Victim’s presence may not be insisted on in cases under POCSO Act, where the accused is a child in conflict with law, because the considerations for grant of bail to the child in conflict with law are not dependant on the apprehensions of the prosecutrix.
• After the bail application is disposed of, the copy of the order should be mandatorily sent to the victim. This becomes important since the victim’s main concern is her safety in case the accused is enlarged on bail. By providing her a copy of the bail order the victim is made aware about the status of the accused and the conditions of the bail and her right to approach the court for cancellation of bail in case of breach of conditions of bail.
• Judicial Officers may also be sensitized about the need to reduce interface of victim with the accused in court to the minimum possible and to permit victim to be represented through an authorised person in court at the time of hearing of bail application, instead of insisting for appearance of the victim in person, either virtually or physically.

Accordingly, the court directed the Secretary (Litigation) of Delhi State Legal Services Authority to circulate the order to all necessary parties and stakeholders while underscoring that the said directions, if implemented in its true letter, spirit and intent, may help in reducing the trauma of a POCSO victims.


Earlier, the court had asked the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee (DHCLSC), the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) and Advocate Adit S. Pujari to give suggestive practice directions to ensure that the victim is not traumatized again by re-living the incident during court proceedings.


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