Kerala will set up 57 fast-track special courts to ensure speedy trial in the cases registered under POCSO, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court had directed the union and state governments to take steps for faster trials in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) cases and set up fast-track special courts in the financial years of 2019-20 and 2020-21 for the purpose, he informed the state assembly.
The court had also directed that the services of retired judicial officials be made use of, if necessary, he said.
"Steps will be taken to set up 57 fast-track special courts and earmark adequate fund for the initiative," Mr Vijayan said, while replying to a calling attention motion by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) legislator M Ummer.
The Chief Minister said the LDF government's policy is to initiate stringent legal proceedings at the earliest when the molestation of children is reported.
Quoting figures, he said the conviction rate in POCSO cases in Kerala has risen to 24 per cent in 2019 from 19 per cent in 2016, which is higher than the national average.
The state government had already notified an additional sessions court each in all 14 districts as special courts for the trial of cases registered under the POCSO Act, he said.
Besides this, permission had been granted to set up a special court in Ernakulam district exclusively for the trial of POCSO cases, Mr Vijayan added.
Facing heat over the recent acquittal of the accused in a POCSO case, the government had on Tuesday decided to set up a committee headed by Chief Secretary Tom Jose for effectively handling cases relating to sexual exploitation of children.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister on Tuesday after the government drew flak following the recent acquittal of all four accused in the case relating to the sexual assault and killing of two minor sisters at Walayar in Palakkad district in 2017.
Pinarayi Vijayan also directed that all schools should have counselling facilities for children and they should become courageous enough to narrate any sexual exploitation even at home.
The National Human Rights Commission had recently stated that Kerala had 9,000 POCSO cases pending.