The State of Maharashtra is working on the establishment of a “modern Children’s Court”, and is framing draft guidelines for its functioning, the Bombay High Court was informed by Advocate General (AG) AA Kumbhakoni on Tuesday.
The submissions were made before a bench comprising Justice Naresh H. Patil and Justice G.S. Kulkarni on a suo motu petition instituted by the Court in view of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Sampurna Behura v. Union of India & Ors.
In the said case, the Supreme Court had, in February this year, requested Chief Justices of all High Courts to “seriously consider” establishing child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district.
The judgment was passed on a petition filed by activist and human rights defender Dr. Sampurna Behura, who had highlighted the “virtual non-implementation or tardy implementation” of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Allowing the petition, the Court had inter alia directed, “Since the involvement of the State Governments and the Union Territories is critical to child rights and the effective implementation of the JJ Act, it would be appropriate if each High Court and the Juvenile Justice Committee of each High Court continues its proactive role in the welfare of children in their State.
To make the involvement and process more meaningful, we request the Chief Justice of every High Court to register proceedings on its own motion for the effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 so that road-blocks if any, encountered by state authorities and the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court are meaningfully addressed after hearing the concerned governmental authorities.”
The High Court had, therefore, initiated the proceedings, and had, earlier last month, emphasized on the importance of consulting various stakeholders for formulating a sensitization programme for the children. It had then observed, “We would expect the State to consider reasons for escalation in cases where children are victims of crime. Experts in the field of social sciences, psychologist, psychiatrist, social workers, reformers and eminent persons in the field of education/law needs to be consulted.
A sensitization programme on a wider level needs to be chocked out right from the school level to communicate the younger minds regarding values in life to be pursued. We expect and hope that all the stakeholders would contribute so that State could carry out successfully sensitization programme at all levels.”
Thereafter, on Tuesday, the AG placed before the Court a note on the establishment of Children's Courts in various States of the country. Amicus Curiae Deepa Chawan also submitted a note on her experience at a Children's Court in the City Civil Court at Mumbai. The matter will next be heard on 14 August.