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‘Sexual offence to women and children is offence to Society’

Shillong, Nov 4: A one-day State Level Consultation on Effective Implementation of POCSO Act, 2012-Reflection on progress, challenges, opportunities and way forward was held today at Yojana Bhavan, Shillong.

The programme was organised by the Juvenile Justice Committee, High Court of Meghalaya in collaboration with Directorate of Social Welfare, Meghalaya and Directorate of Health Services, Meghalaya.

The inaugural function was graced with the august presence of Hon’ble Chief Justice, High Court of Meghalaya, Justice Sanjib Banerjee as the Chief Guest also present were Hon’ble Judge, High Court of Meghalaya Justice Hamarsan Singh Thangkhiew, Hon’ble Judge, High Court of Meghalaya, Justice W Diengdoh, Commissioner & Secretary, Social Welfare, Sampath Kumar, Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Meghalaya, Pravin Bakshi, Commissioner & Secretary to the Governor, B D R Tiwari, Commissioner & Secretary, Education, Director of Social Welfare, Meghalaya, D. D Shira, Director of Health Services, Meghalaya, Dr. H Lyndem, District Judges, representatives from SJPC, DCPU, State run Training Institutions, Shelter Homes among others.

“Sexual offence to women and children is offence to Society and unless we come down with a heavy hand, there will be no freedom to women,” said the Hon’ble Chief Justice, High Court of Meghalaya in his inaugural address.

While India is celebrating 75 years of its Independence with great fanfare, we as citizens still deny the basic freedom to women and children, he said. Informing that the carving of the POCSO Act, 2012 is due to the inadequacy of the Indian Penal Code to effectively address and counter heinous crimes such as sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, he said that the increase in the reporting of sexual crimes against children since the enactment of the Act is indeed very encouraging.

While informing that 80% of the criminal appeals are related to POCSO, the Hon’ble Chief Justice said that the time has come for us to wake up and recognise the rights of women and children and called upon citizens to “ensure that women and children enjoy the same freedom that menfolk enjoy in public spaces”.

Justice H S Thangkhiew in his opening remarks said that 10 years since the implementation of POCSO Act 2012, the time has come for all concerned stakeholders to discuss and review the issues related to POSCO Act to identify good practices and addressed those areas that needs to be re-evaluated. Stating that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 is the most effective tool to combat crimes against children, Mr. Justice Thangkhiew said that the stakeholders and guardians of the law need to take a proactive role to ensure that child’s rights are protected in letter and spirit.

The Consultation programme deliberated on the topics of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of POCSO Survivors and Preventive Measures – Practices, Gaps and Opportunities, Child friendly Court Procedures During Prosecution for POCSO Survivors-Practices, Gaps and Opportunitites, Investigation of Cases under POCSO-role of Medical Officer, Special Public Prosecutors, Probation Officer and Support Person and Building Capacity of Functionaries under POCSO Act and the Role of State-Run Training Institutions.

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