On POCSO cases, Guwahati High Court issues new guidelines

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On POCSO cases, Guwahati High Court issues new guidelines

Guwahati: The Guwahati High Court in Assam has issued new practice guidelines for dealing with criminal appeals, revisions and applications relating to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act and Section 439(1A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that relevant parties are properly notified and the rights of victims are protected.
Key provisions of the new guidelines:

Before granting bail in cases involving aggravated sexual offences under Sections 376, 376-A, 376-DA, and 376-DB of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the High Court or Court of Session must notify the Public Prosecutor within 15 days of receiving the bail application.

The Investigating Officer (IO) must communicate in writing to the informant or their authorized representative about their right to be present during the bail hearing. This communication, following the prescribed format (“Annexure A”), must be submitted along with the reply or status report on the bail application. The court will make all efforts to ensure the presence of the informant/authorized representative.

The Registry will serve a copy of the bail application/appeal/revision/petition to the Public Prosecutor, who will forward it to the IO or Officer-in-Charge of the concerned police station. The officer(s) are then responsible for informing the victim/guardian/support person about the proceedings before the High Court.

The victim/guardian/support person must be included as a party in every such application/appeal/revision/petition filed in the High Court. While impleading the victim, the court will strictly adhere to the guidelines in Section 33(7) of the POCSO Act to protect their identity. A formal notice will be issued to the impleaded party through the IO/Officer-in-Charge.

The notice to the victim/guardian/support person will also inform them about the availability of free legal aid counsel if they are unable to hire their own lawyer.

These new guidelines come into effect immediately.

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