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Prefer Virtual Recording Of Testimonies Of Victims Of Child Trafficking Cases : Supreme Court To Trial Courts

Sohini Chowdhury
4 May 2022 3:45 AM GMT
Prefer Virtual Recording Of Testimonies Of Victims Of Child Trafficking Cases : Supreme Court To Trial Courts
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While hearing the matter pertaining to the virtual recording of testimonies of child victims/witnesses in cases of inter-state child trafficking, the Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the Trial Courts to give preference to recording of evidence of children at the remote point through video conferencing, especially in those child trafficking cases which have been identified to be...

While hearing the matter pertaining to the virtual recording of testimonies of child victims/witnesses in cases of inter-state child trafficking, the Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the Trial Courts to give preference to recording of evidence of children at the remote point through video conferencing, especially in those child trafficking cases which have been identified to be pending before them.

"The Trial Courts are directed to give preference to recording of evidence of victims/witnesses at remote points…via VCs."

A Bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai noted that for giving preference, the Trial Courts ought to have intimation of the list of cases identified and placed before the Apex Court and the order passed by it.

"How will the courts come to know about our order? You send the list you have given here, give it to the Registrars of the High Courts, so that they can give it to relevant Courts."

Accordingly, it directed its Registry to send the list of cases of child trafficking pending in each State to the Registry of the respective High Courts, who are to inform the Trial Courts about the same.

"A list of pending child trafficking cases had been furnished to this Court. The Registry is directed to transmit the said list to the Registrars of the High Courts who in turn will bring the same to the notice of the concerned Trial Courts."

It also encouraged the remote as well as court point coordinators to seek the guidance of National Legal Services Authority ("NALSA") as and when required -

"In case of any difficulty, the Court Point Coordinators and Remote Point Coordinators shall take the guidance of NALSA which is willing to coordinate with the VCs of victims of child trafficking from remote points."

In a POCSO case in Jaipur, there were four child witnesses who were residents of Gaya, Bihar. On the suggestion of Amicus Curiae, Mr. Gaurav Agarwal, the Apex Court had directed the District Judge, Gaya and the Presiding Officer of POCSO Court-2, Jaipur to record the evidence of the four child witnesses and the four parents of the witnesses of the child witnesses through video conferencing. Mr. Agarwal apprised the Bench that the results of the Jaipur pilot project were quite encouraging. He stated that the trial is now over and judgment was delivered on 22.03.2022. Relying on the depositions, the accused was also convicted.

On a previous occasion, the Bench had, inter alia, directed the High Courts to place on record requisite information of the remote point coordinators on their website and the State were also directed to provide data of child trafficking cases pending in the State, which Mr. Agarwal submitted has been complied with by most of the States.

"The contact details of the remote point coordinators are also there on the website for almost all States. States were directed to give data regarding child trafficking cases which are pending in the state. That has been compiled."

The infrastructure being broadly available, he urged the Apex Court to direct the Trial Courts dealing with cases of inter-state child trafficking to give preference to examine the children through video conferencing. He added -

"NALSA has verified that almost all DLSAs (District Legal Services Authority) have VCs."

[Case Title: Santosh Vishwanath Shinde v. Union of India| W.P.(Crl.) No. 274 of 2020]


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