Four Child Friendly Courts were inaugurated in West Bengal on Saturday to create a congenial atmosphere for juveniles.
The children constitute 40 per cent of the country’s population and courts specifically catering to sensitivities and needs of children must be established, Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur said while inaugurating the state’s first Child Friendly Court at Bankshall court here.
“The number of juvenile offenders in the country is in the region of 30,000, but that of juveniles against whom crime has been committed is 90,000,” Justice Lokur said.
Stating that the number of children against whom crime has been committed is three times more than those who have been involved in offences, Justice Lokur said all out efforts must be made to give the children a good life.
Referring to the alleged rape of 34 children at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, he said “some of these girls didn’t even know that they were raped and there may be many more victims than those who have been identified.”
He said that similar incidents have occurred at a children’s home at Deoria in Uttar Pradesh.
“A three-year old victim doesn’t even know what is rape. Trial of such cases in a traditional case is not possible as the children cannot express themselves owing to the legal language, procedures and the surrounding atmosphere,” Justice Lokur said.
Stating that CFCs will be effective to fill this void, he said that assistance of professionals like counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other such specialists were needed to interact with children so that they could speak about what they had gone through.
Justice Lokur, who conceptualised CFCs in the country, said that setting up of Child Friendly Courts was a recognition of child rights.
Three other CFCs - one each in east Burdwan district headquarters, Bankura district headquarters and Khatra were also inaugurated.
Supreme Court judge Justice Indira Banerjee said that the concept was to create a non-threatening environment - a court which is humane and considerate.
“The object is to rehabilitate. The CFCs are required to be empathetic to juvenile victims and deviants,” she said.
In a CFC, a juvenile victim is not made to face the accused directly unlike a conventional court and is seated in a separate enclosure from where the child interacts with the judge through video-conference, while the accused is produced in another enclosure.
A separate waiting room for children has been arranged, adjacent to the court rooms, where a television, toys and story books have been kept for them and would be assisted by a counsellor.
Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya said “even after 71 years of independence, we cannot protect our children.”
Stating that children are so traumatised in case of incidents of sexual assaults that they cannot narrate the incidents even to their parents, he said that CFCs would remove these difficulties of juvenile victims.