Madras HC directive on investigations under POCSO Act

The Madras High Court has held that if the investigation of those arrested under POCSO Act or Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act cannot be completed within 24 hours, the investigating officer should produce the accused before the nearest judicial magistrate.

A Special Bench of Justices S Nagamuthu (since retired) and P N Prakash gave the ruling recently, when a special reference was made by the Chief Justice to clarify the powers of the usual magistrate courts and the special courts constituted under the two Acts on the issue.

The Bench said if the accused could not be produced within 24 hours before the jurisdictional Special Court under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) or the SC/ST Acts, the IO may produce him before the nearest Judicial Magistrate, who may remand the accused to such custody, as he thinks fit, for a term not exceeding 15 days.

“We clarify that all the provisions contained in Section 167 of the CrPC are applicable to the Special Court under the POCSO/SC-ST Act,” the bench said and directed the Registry to withdraw immediately, a circular issued by a portfolio judge of the High Court on the issue, on February 12, 2016.

The Special Courts shall deal with the applications seeking bail and any order of such court either granting or refusing to grant bail shall be appealable to the High Court and Section 439 of the CrPC is not applicable to the High Court in respect of any offence under the POCSO or SC/ST Act.

The said Special Court shall have jurisdiction to grant all the reliefs to a victim, as per the SC/ST Act, the judges said.

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