Under the law, it is mandated that trials for cases falling under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act must be concluded within one year from the date when the offense is taken cognizance of.

Recently, Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has granted approval for the selection of four special public prosecutors (SPPs) to handle trials related to cases governed by the POCSO Act of 2012. Officials within the LG’s office made this announcement on Thursday, expressing frustration with the Delhi government for a purported nine-month delay in processing the necessary paperwork.

In contrast, the Delhi government has denied any wrongdoing and shifted blame onto the LG, accusing him of trying to circumvent the authority of the elected government.

The request for the appointment of these SPPs initially surfaced in December of the previous year when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) requested the issuance of a notification for their appointment as per Section 32 of the POCSO Act. These prosecutors would be responsible for handling POCSO cases that the federal probe agency is conducting in various courts in Delhi.

An official within the LG’s office revealed that the file pertaining to this matter had been circulating between the home minister and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal since January. The LG, on September 22, resorted to invoking Rule 19 (5) of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules (ToBR) of 1993, recalling all the files related to the SPP appointments, which were then presented for his approval.

The official explained, “Approximately two weeks ago, the LG invoked the provisions of Rule 19 (5) of ToBR in the interest of public welfare and recalled the file concerning the appointment of SPPs in CBI’s POCSO cases. The Delhi government had been inexplicably delaying action on this file for over nine months, ultimately sending it for LG’s approval.”

The delay in appointing SPPs has the potential to adversely impact the CBI’s cases, as trials for POCSO cases are required by law to be completed within a year from the date of recognizing the offense. Officials raised concerns that such a slow and unresponsive approach to dealing with matters related to POCSO cases could unfairly benefit the wrongdoers.

In contrast, the Delhi government refuted these allegations and laid the blame for the delay in appointments squarely on the LG. They claimed that the LG’s actions were the reason for the appointment of special public prosecutors being held up. According to the government’s statement, “The matter of appointing special public prosecutors remained pending due to the LG’s efforts to circumvent the Delhi government… Instead of routing the appointment through the minister, he (the LG) forwarded the appointment file directly to the Union home ministry. Since the authority to appoint special public prosecutors lies with the state government, the Union home ministry declined to make these appointments. Consequently, the file returned to the minister, and all of this consumed a significant amount of time.”

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