New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed all high courts in the country to constitute committees of judges to monitor cases pending under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

The high courts were also directed to set up special child-friendly courts for trials relating to the provisions of the Act.

Issuing a slew of directions to fast-track pending cases, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said no adjournments should be granted and proper procedure under the law must be followed in all the cases.

The court also ordered the state police chiefs to set up special task forces to ensure quick, effective investigation of cases filed under the POCSO Act and ensure that witnesses are produced at the time of the trial.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) brought by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava seeking death penalty for child rapists in connection with the rape of an eight-month-old girl by her 28-year-old cousin in Delhi January this year.

While disposing of the case, Chief Justice Misra observed that a large number of cases under the POCSO Act were pending before various courts and there was a need to conclude them at the earliest.

The Union cabinet on 21 April approved the promulgation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 for death penalty for those convicted of raping children below 12 years of age. The government will look at making changes in the existing law when the Parliament meets next.

The move came in the backdrop of the nationwide outrage over the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir and the rape of another minor in Unnao allegedly by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator.