Supreme Court's Recent Judgment On Abortion Undermines Purpose Of Section 19 Of POCSO Act- Dr B Ramaswamy
As per Dr B. Ramaswamy, the Supreme Court's recent Judgment on abortion undermines the purpose of Section 19 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).
A Bench headed by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud had in its recent judgment expanding abortion rights held that a Registered Medical Practitioner who has provided information under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act (in reference to a minor seeking medical termination of a pregnancy under the MTP Act) is exempt from disclosing the minor's identity in any criminal proceedings which may follow from the report under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act.
"... we clarify that the RMP, only on request of the minor and the guardian of the minor, need not disclose the identity and other personal details of the minor in the information provided under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act", the Bench also comprising Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice J.B. Pardiwala had held.
As per Dr Ramaswamy, the Investigating Officer investigating a POCSO offence might face problems due to the aforesaid dilution of the POCSO Act.
"There is a lacuna", Dr Ramaswamy said. He added that clarification is required regarding the role of Investigating Officer and that though the intention of the Court was not to entangle the child victims in legal proceedings, there will be cases where the IO will require the name of the child victim.
"There is a risk of the offender getting away. It can be a father, brother, neighbour or uncle. It is going to have negative consequences", Dr Ramaswamy said about the Court's declaration of law that a Doctor need not disclose the identity or personal details of the minor at the request of the guardian of the child victim.
He said that a guardian himself can be a perpetrator. "What if the guardian himself is the offender?", he asked, adding that in a case, an offender may protect himself or herself using the lacuna.
Dr B. Ramaswamy is an expert in Child Rights and is the author of several books including one titled 'Child Human Rights'. He is the Chairperson of the Standing Appellate Committee of AICTE and an Expert Committee Member of the UGC. He was formerly a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
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