The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked high courts across the country to set up committees of judges to monitor and regulate the trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud also directed the Directors General or Commissioners of Police in the states to set up Special Task Forces so that the investigation is carried out expeditiously and witnesses are produced in the court on the date of their appearance.
It also said the judges holding the trial in such cases should not grant unnecessary adjournments.
The order came as the court was told that 112,628 cases under the POCSO Act were pending before trial courts across the country, with Uttar Pradesh leading the list at 30,883.
Maharashtra including Goa, Union Territory (UT) of Diu and Daman, Dadar and Nagar Haveli has 16,099 pending cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh (10,117), West Bengal (9,894), Odisha (6,849), Delhi (6,100), Kerala including UT Of Lakshadweep (5,409), Gujarat (5,177), Bihar (4,910) and Karnataka (4,045).
Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand informed the court that the government had amended the law providing for death penalty for the rape of children younger than 12 years.
The court's order is rooted in the sexual assault of an eight-month-old baby by her cousin. The baby underwent a surgery to repair the tears in her private parts at Kalawati Saran Children's Hospital on January 30.
Later on the direction of the top court, the baby was examined by two doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after which she was shifted to AIIMS.
On March 12, the court asked all the high courts to furnish the details of all the POCSO-related cases pending before the trial courts in their respective states and the status of the trials.
The court sought the details as it was told that according to a 2016 report of the National Crime Records Bureau, 89 per cent of the cases of sexual crime against children registered under POCSO were pending trial.