The city of Hyderabad on Wednesday got its first child-friendly Courtroom. After Goa and Delhi, Telangana has become the third state to have a child friendly Court.
It was jointly inaugurated by Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan of High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad and Director General of Telangana Police Anurag Sharma at the Nampally Criminal Courts Complex. It was presided by T Rajani, Metropolitan Sessions judge, and Dr. Soumya Misra, inspector general of police (IG), CID.
Conceptualized and made into reality with the efforts of Justice and Care, a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Metropolitan Sessions court, and the Crime Investigation Department (CID), the Courtroom has features like separate waiting rooms for children and a video camera trial for the accused, as mandated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, 2012.
The Judge will not sit on a dais to be more approachable and the police accompanying a child will also not be in uniform. The facilities permit the witness/victim to have direct interaction with the Judge, while the accused would be able to view and hear the proceedings via two-way video conferencing in the courtroom. The child will be able to view and hear the proceedings via two-way video conferencing in the courtroom.
Speaking at the inauguration, Metropolitan Sessions Judge T. Rajani commended the inauguration of the Children’s Court, and advised that Judicial Officers, Advocates and Police need to be sensitized. She pointed out that there are over 1,640 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, 2012, at various stages across different district courts in Telangana.
“Child abuse is something that has been going on from a long time. Also, the idea is that women don’t have to run to a specific police station, but will have a component in the existing stations to help them,” Chief Guest Mr. Anurag Sharma, Telangana Director General of Police (DGP) was quoted as saying.
“With increasing crimes against children, there is a dire need for systemic reforms in strengthening the evidence gathering process. The child-friendly space for recording the witness and testimony of the child will aid in improving the conviction rates for the crimes against children,” Mr. Sharma further said.
Mr. Jithendra Reddy, President of the Bar Association, pointed out the shortfalls in the arrangements and said that the Children’s Court was located in the basement, and was lacking proper ventilation and toilet facilities.
Responding to such concerns, Commander Ashok Kumar, Director of Investigation, Justice and Care, said, “From an administrative point of view, this is the first phase. Toilet facility, entertainment room, air-conditioning, etc would be taken up in the coming weeks.”