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Establishment Of Vulnerable Witness Deposition Courtrooms: SC May Consider The Option Of Monitoring By HC Chief Justices To Ensure Compliance

Mehal Jain
15 Nov 2021 2:45 PM GMT
Establishment Of Vulnerable Witness Deposition Courtrooms: SC May Consider The Option Of Monitoring By HC Chief Justices To Ensure Compliance
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In connection with the establishment of vulnerable witness deposition courtrooms in every district, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that it may consider requesting the Chief Justices of High Courts to monitor compliance with its 2017 judgment in State of Maharashtra v. Bandu on this behalf.The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing a Miscellaneous Application as to...

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In connection with the establishment of vulnerable witness deposition courtrooms in every district, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that it may consider requesting the Chief Justices of High Courts to monitor compliance with its 2017 judgment in State of Maharashtra v. Bandu on this behalf.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna was hearing a Miscellaneous Application as to the wider issue on the need to set up vulnerable witness court rooms in compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v. Bandu. In 2019, notices were directed to be issued to all the High Courts through the Registrars of the respective High Courts, for status report with regard to the establishment of the vulnerable witness deposition court rooms in compliance of the directions of this Court in State of Maharashtra v. Bandu [(2018) 11 SCC 163].
On Monday, Senior Advocate Vibha Dutt Makhija, Amicus Curiae in the matter, informed the bench that responses of all High Courts have been received except for those of Meghalaya and Manipur, and that she has duly filed a status report as to compliance.
"Maharashtra, Delhi and Rajasthan have done very well. There are many deposition centres in their district courts. Delhi has 100% court compliance", she apprised the bench.
Elaborating on the issues in courts across states, she advanced, "Most High Courts don't have guidelines. If they were to adopt the Delhi guidelines, half the modalities would be done...some are also facing financial constraints."
"One way to go about this is to ask the Chief Justices to monitor compliance with the judgment...we will have this matter on a Wednesday in early December when you can address us for half an hour. By then, we will also read your status report on compliance", said Justice Chandrachud.
The bench then proceeded to list the matter in December.
In Bandu's case, the Court had dealt with the suggestion that there should be special centres for examination of vulnerable witnesses in criminal cases in the interest of conducive environment in Court so as to encourage a vulnerable victim to make a statement. "Such centres ought to be set up with all necessary safeguards. Our attention has been drawn to guidelines issued by the Delhi High Court for recording evidence of vulnerable witnesses in criminal matters and also the fact that four special centres have been set up at Delhi for the purpose. We find merit in the above suggestion", the Court had opined.
The bench of Justices A. K. Goel and U. U. Lalit had noted that in Sakshi v. Union of India and Ors (2004) 5 SCC 518 this Court, after due consideration of the above issue, issued following directions:
"(1) The provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 327 Cr.PC shall, in addition to the offences mentioned in the sub-section, also apply in inquiry or trial of offences under Sections 354 and 377 IPC.

(2) In holding trial of child sex abuse or rape:
(i) a screen or some such arrangements may be made where the victim or witnesses (who may be equally vulnerable like the victim) do not see the body or face of the accused;
(ii) the questions put in cross-examination on behalf of the accused, insofar as they relate directly to the incident, should be given in writing to the presiding officer of the court who may put them to the victim or witnesses in a language which is clear and is not embarrassing;
(iii) the victim of child abuse or rape, while giving testimony in court, should be allowed sufficient breaks as and when required.
These directions are in addition to those given in State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh"

"The directions of Delhi High Court and setting up of special centres for vulnerable witnesses as noted above are consistent with the decision of this Court and supplement the same. We are of the view that all High Courts can adopt such guidelines if the same have not yet been adopted with such modifications as may be deemed necessary. Setting up of one centre for vulnerable witnesses may be perhaps required almost in every district in the country. All the High Courts may take appropriate steps in this direction in due course in phases. At least two such centres in the jurisdiction of each High Court may be set up within three months from today. Thereafter, more such centres may be set up as per decision of the High Courts. A copy of this order be sent to all the High Courts for necessary action", the bench of Justices Goel and Lalit had directed.

Case Title: Smruti Tukaram Badade v. The State Of Maharashtra And Anr

Click Here To Read/Download The Order


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