Offences against children cannot be viewed lightly: Karnataka HC pulls up State
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Offences against children cannot be viewed lightly: Karnataka HC pulls up State

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court today questioned the State on the reasons for denying the allegations against child pornography in Child Care Institutions. In this regard, the High Court posed the following question to State,

On what basis can you say that the report filed the Ministry of Women and Child Development has no substance in its allegation of child pornography?

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar further stated,

How could the Superintendent [SI] of police give a clean chit without conducting investigation? Such persons should be removed from their posts. We need an investigation to be carried out otherwise action will taken against the concerned as per section 21 of the POCSO [The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 ] Act.

Chief Justice Oka of Karnataka High Court

The Court further noted that even the registered FIR was found to be defective. The Court opined that such acts, if not dealt with properly, will “affect the core of the entire police machinery”.

The High Court further directed that all correspondence/communication made by the Director General [DG], SI to be withdrawn since there was no registered FIR. The Court further asked the State to tender an apology to the Central Government stating that an error had been committed and that an investigation would be carried out again in the matter.

In this behalf, CJ Oka reiterated that investigation can be carried only after registration of FIR. CJ Oka additionally expressed his dissatisfaction stating that the matter asserting child pornography was being taken lightly by the State. Offences against children cannot be viewed lightly, the Court held.

The Court additionally pointed out to the State that

Whatever you do has to be in the form of affidavit. It has to be on oath. Either a person superior to the DG [Director General] or the DG himself will have to file it.”

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had submitted a report dated September 6, 2018 which recorded that more than one hundred children residing in Child Care Institutions in the State are victims of child pornography.

An affidavit was tendered earlier this month which recorded the documents filed by the Central Government indicating the number of such cases and the names of the concerned Child Care Institutions where child pornography cases have occurred.

Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO is the petitioner in the matter. Advocate Venkatesh P Dalwai will appear for the petitioners.

Earlier, the Karnataka High Court had sought a response from the state government regarding allegations that the police have not registered a single FIR though 113 instances of child pornography, which is a serious cognizable offence, was reported in the state in 2018.

The matter will be next heard on January 21.

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