Setting up of special courts for children, vulnerable witnesses
GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has asked the Central and State Governments to file their respective responses over setting up of special children-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district of the Assam. The court also directed the Registrar (Judicial) to call for reports from each of the districts of Assam regarding the status of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) courts functioning in these districts and also the facilities in such courts.
The High Court issued the directive during hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and a linked suo moto PIL on Tuesday.
The petitioners are seeking implementation of a Supreme Court directive dated February 9, 2018 in connection with a Writ Petition (Civil). The apex court had stated: "Finally, we request and urge the Chief Justice of each High Court to seriously consider establishing child friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district. Inquires under the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act and trials under other statutes such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, trials for sexual offences under the Indian Penal Code and other similar laws require to be conducted with a high degree of sensitivity, care and empathy for the victim. It is often said that the experience in our courts of a juvenile accused of an offence or the victim of a sexual offence is traumatic. We need to have some compassion towards them - even juveniles in conflict with law, since they are entitled to the presumption of innocence - and establishing child friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts is perhaps one manner in which the justice delivery system can respond to ease their pain and suffering. Another advantage of such child friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts is that they can be used for trials in which adult women are victims of sexual offences since they too are often traumatized by the not-so-friendly setting and environment in our courts."
The High Court will resume hearing of the case on May 19.