Mumbai High Court orders Pune courts to speed up hearing in child/women trafficking cases
Keeping in mind the high number of cases of trafficking of minor girls and women pending hearing, the Bombay high court recently directed the principal district judge and chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Pune to ensure that cases are assigned to the session’s judge who can give priority to their trials.
The court was informed that postpone in trial is because the cases are not being referred to special courts for hearing because accused released on bail are untraceable. A bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice GS Kulkarni gave the order while hearing criminal public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Freedom Firm against the Pune police commissioner and others.
The PIL has raised various issues regarding the proceedings under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and offences under the Indian Penal Code and has proposed certain guidelines for speedier trial of such cases.
Advocate Gayatri Singh, appearing for the NGO, informed the court that several cases remain pending for many years due to the accused not being traceable and other such reasons. But the victims, many of whom, are minors at the time of the offence, remain in children’s homes and are not released as the criminal case concerned is pending, Singh contended.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai then said unnecessary delay occurs on account of the time taken by magisterial courts to commit the cases to the sessions court. She further submitted that often the accused, particularly those charged with trafficking, go absconding after they are released on bail and the police find it difficult to trace the people who stand sureties for such accused.
She suggested tough conditions for bail in such cases, like the accused being asked to file an affidavit mentioning the names, addresses and other particulars of sureties and giving the investigating officer an opportunity to verify the particulars before granting bail. It was also mentioned that such cases should be speed up and preferably completed within six months.
The bench, accordingly, directed the principal district judge and the CJM to take steps to ensure that there are no delays in the constraint proceedings and that the cases be mention to judges who can give priority to trial of such matters.