The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government if the police could withdraw the controversial circular, issued by the Mumbai police commissioner earlier this month, which mandated that no FIR for molestation or offences under The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, or POCSO Act, should be registered without the zonal DCP’s permission.
A bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and VK Bisht asked the public prosecutor to take instructions from the state government or directly from the police commissioner, on “whether the June 6 circular issued by the Mumbai police commissioner could be withdrawn?” The HC was hearing a plea filed by city resident Damayanti Vasave, who argued that the circular was arbitrary and sought that it be set aside.
The high court will hear the plea further on June 23.
On June 6, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey issued a circular, which said a First Information Report (FIR) for molestation or under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act should be registered only upon a recommendation by an Assistant Commissioner of Police and after receiving permission of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of the zone.
The reason cited for the directive was that many times false cases of such offences are registered due to disputes over property, money, or because of personal feuds.
However, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights sought withdrawal of the order, saying it will violate the rights of sexual abuse victims. The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights had also asked Mr Pandey to immediately withdraw the order.
After facing criticism over the circular, Mr Pandey last week said if the majority feels otherwise, the directive can be reconsidered.