Police adopt SOP to expedite probe in POCSO cases

Strategies chalked out in association with judicial academy

The Greater Chennai Police have devised a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for expeditious investigation of cases reported under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

To ensure a thorough investigation and facilitate speedy disposal of cases, the police roped in the Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy for preparing the SOP that covers all aspects right from the registration of case to the completion of investigation.

Acting on the instructions of Director-General of Police/Chennai Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal, a special team headed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Prevention of Crime against Women and Children) culled out various provisions of the law under the POCSO Act that deals with the role of police in the investigation.

At the time of registering the First Information Report (FIR), the police should verify the possibility of the application of even laws apart from the POCSO Act such as the Indian Penal Code, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Information Technology Act and so on.

While the POCSO Act provided for medical examination of the victims by taking them to the hospital within 24 hours of the information, no medical practitioner or hospital shall demand legal/magisterial requisition or any other documentation to provide emergency medical care to the survivor/child.

Crucial points

Among the crucial points that investigators have been told to keep in view during investigation were to ensure that the child did not come in contact with the accused during the medical examination, provide full protection and confidentiality to the survivor and their parents/guardian, collect CCTV footage from cameras installed in the vicinity of the scene of crime or places frequented by the the child or the accused, look for evidence online or in social media and collect the same with certification under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, etc.

A checklist of 122 points has been prepared for the Investigation Officer to cover in the process of “reporting the offence”, “recording information given by a child with disability”, “collection of samples,” “sharing information” and “monitoring the case”.

360-degree probe

“The objective is to make sure that there is no scope for any gaps in the investigation that may benefit the accused. The probe should take a 360-degree view of the case by covering all angles of investigation,” Mr. Jiwal told The Hindu on Monday. As regards installation of CCTV in the city, he said about 1.07 lakh cameras were functioning in Chennai. An additional 5,250 would soon be installed with GIS mapping and hotspot analysis features under the Nirbhaya Fund. Another 13,500 cameras would be added to the surveillance system based on gap analysis, Mr. Jiwal said.

Orders ignored

In a related development, a 2018 order of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission is yet to be implemented by schools in the State.

State Information Commissioner S. Muthuraj had directed all private schools to host, on their websites, the names of those in the management, the administration, the teaching and non-teaching faculty along with details of criminal antecedents, if any.

While the Public Information Officers were told to coordinate with the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) to access crime records of the employees, no perceptible action has been taken yet on the order, sources in the TNIC said.

Denial of information

The orders were passed on a petition filed under the Right to Information Act by J. Mohammed Ali Siddiq, who challenged the denial of information from a private school.

Mr. Muthuraj had ruled that all schools that had benefited by way of funds, grants or subsidies of the government, either directly or indirectly, should be construed as public authorities under the provisions of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

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