The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to consider the possibility of video recording the statements of minor witnesses instead of having them to depose in a court room.
A bench of justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni asked the state to consider making use of "technology" and employing means such as video conferencing to admit a child's testimony without calling the child to the court as a witness.
The bench stated this after Advocate General (AG) Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed it that the state government had prepared a plan to make child friendly court rooms across the state.
The court was hearing suo motu the issue of constructing child-friendly courts across Maharashtra.
The AG said that as per the proposed plan, the judges and other staff will not wear uniforms in such court rooms.
"We will also have some law students to assist the children while they give their testimonies. There will not be a dais like in other court rooms and the atmosphere in these special court rooms will be such that children feel comfortable," Mr Kumbhakoni said.
He also told the bench that the government had spoken to authorities at the Delhi High Court where there is a child friendly court on its premises.
The AG also said that the government had decided to construct such court rooms in the state.
At this, the bench said that while the state's initiative was commendable, "Wouldn't it be better if children didn't need to come to the courts at all?"
"Can't it be that children do not have to come to court at all, irrespective of whether such courtroom is child friendly or not?" the bench asked.
"You can make use of technology...some judicial officers could visit the child at his or her home to record the statement. Or, they could be brought to depose at any place that they feel comfortable in," the bench said.
In February this year, the Supreme Court had requested chief justices of all high courts to "seriously consider" establishing child friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts in each district.
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