Plea in HC for appointing more prosecutors, court asks Delhi govt secy to update

Delhi High Court
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The high court noted that the process has been going on for the last six months and asked whether a criminal case can be heard without an APP.

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Delhi government to inform as to when it will issue public notice inviting applications for appointing more additional public prosecutors (APPs) for the trial courts here.

The high court noted that the process has been going on for the last six months and asked whether a criminal case can be heard without an APP.

“A minimum of two APPs are required in one court. Whenever a new court is created, APP’s post must also be created. Two APPs are bound to be sanctioned otherwise what will the judge or a defence counsel do without a prosecutor? If the routine procedure takes time, you (Delhi government) immediately appoint special public prosecutors (SPPs),” a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said.

The high court was hearing a plea by Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association seeking direction to create posts of APPs and then appoint them to the 55 fast-track and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act courts in the national capital.

“We hereby direct the Delhi government’s secretary (Home) to file an affidavit on or before the next date,” the bench said.

It also asked the government to indicate the least possible time by which it will issue public notice inviting applications for APPs so that the work can be completed at the earliest.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 26.

The court was informed by senior advocate Ashish Mohan, representing the association, that earlier 73 posts of APPs were to be created as per the Directorate of Prosecution’s (DoP) order, however, now the status report filed by the Delhi government states that the positions have been reduced to 18.

The association, in its plea filed through advocates Kushal Kumar, Aditya Kapoor, Harsh Ahuja and Akashdeep Gupta, has stated that the Supreme Court had in 2019 directed the setting up of special POCSO courts in each district, where there are more than 100 cases under the POCSO Act.

On this, the Delhi government’s status report stated that it is mentioned in the Ministry of Law and Justice’s September 2019 letter that based on pendency of rape and POCSO Act cases in the national capital, it is proposed to set up a total of 16 fast track special courts in the state.

The report filed through Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi, said earlier two proposals were sent to the Administrative Reforms Department to create 73 posts of APPs, but it was returned to the DoP on the ground that it was not found justified.

The Administrative Reforms Department had said that the submission of the Administrative Department to deploy two APPs in POCSO and fast track special courts seemed unreasonable.

Thereafter, the DoP resubmitted the file with a revised proposal for creation of 18 posts of APPs and the same is under process in the Administrative Reforms Department.

The association, in its plea, has claimed that the Delhi government has “refused to create posts of additional public prosecutors to be posted in the 55 fast-track and POCSO courts (existing and proposed)”.

The apex court had also said that these courts would be funded by the central government and the funds would also take care of the appointment of presiding officers, support staff, special public prosecutors and other necessary infrastructure, the association has said.

It has further said that as speedy disposal of POCSO cases was being hampered due to the non-availability of public prosecutors (PP), the DoP ordered that in such situations, the substitute PPs should be present.

However, as this arrangement was not found to be effective, the DoP proposed creation of posts of additional public prosecutors and also sent a proposal for the creation of two such posts in each fast-track and POSCO court, the plea has claimed.

It has further claimed that this proposal was rejected by the Delhi government’s home department, which said the same was unreasonable.

The association has said presently, the 55 fast-track and POCSO courts are functioning with 37 PPs, which is leading to overburdening of the prosecution and an increase in the pendency of rape and POCSO cases.

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