11 childrens’ courts to come up in Delhi

By Azera Rahman, IANS
Thursday, December 30, 2010

NEW DELHI - Eleven children’s courts will soon be set up in the Indian capital in an effort to reach out to child victims of crime who suffer immeasurably because of long judicial processes.

In one case, for instance, a widower raped his daughter over a period of time. The case has dragged on, prolonging the agony for the girl, who has already been scarred - physically and mentally.

The initiative by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) to set up more children’s courts is aimed at helping these children, who are victims of crime but whose rights are often denied.

The process of collection of data on such cases has already begun.

Amod Kanth, chairperson of the DCPCR, said: “There are four categories of children who come under the purview of law - when a child commits a crime, when a child is in need of protection, when a child is a victim of exploitation and when a child is a victim of crime.”

“While the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act takes care of the first three cases, it’s the rights of the fourth category of kids - those who are victims of crime - that are often denied. These children’s courts will therefore deal with such cases where a child is a victim, expedite them and ensure that their rights are not denied,” Kanth told IANS in an interview.

To deal with such cases, Kanth, who also runs Prayas, an NGO for underprivileged children, said the commission approached the Delhi High Court early this year and elicited a positive response.

“Since there is a provision under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act 2005 to set up children’s courts in all districts to deal with the legal protection of kids, we took up the matter with the Delhi High Court which responded positively by designating such courts in a short time and with each court under most senior additional sessions judge (ASJ),” he said.

“Delhi will become the first state where such an initiative is being taken,” Kanth added.

On Oct 18, the commission urged the Delhi government’s secretary for law and justice to convene a meeting of the director of prosecution, representative of the commissioner of police (in charge of Child Protection and Juvenile Justice) and the director, social welfare department, for drawing up an action plan to transfer all such cases to the designated courts, a DCPCR statement said.

There was another meeting Oct 26 where the joint commissioner of police was given the charge of examining all pending investigations to assess complaints where at least one of the victims is a child. The director of prosecution accepted the responsibility of examining all the criminal proceedings pending in various courts where children are victims.

While the process has begun, the commission admitted that it was a huge task and that it would be some time before the entire thing actually becomes a reality. The cases are being segregated district-wise.

The lieutenant governor of Delhi further issued a notification specifying the courts of ASJ at each police district as children’s court.

Kanth said: “The process of identification and transfer of such cases by Delhi Police and the prosecutor in courts is on. There will be an assessment meeting in the first week of January.”

Delhi has two juvenile justice courts to deal with issues pertaining to children as perpetrators of crime and four child welfare courts to deal with issues pertaining to children in need of care and protection.

Kanth said the commission is also in talks with the police so that the investigating officers at the police station level are sensitised to ensure that in future such cases are only sent to the courts of the ASJs designated by the high court.

The ASJs who have been designated are Neeraj Kumar Gupta (Dwarka court), S.K. Sarwaria, Pinky and J.R. Arayn (Patiala court), Sudhir Kumar Jain and Sanjay Kumar (Rohini court), Vinod Kumar, Punam Chaudhury and Nivedita Anil Sharma (Tis Hazari court), and Vinay Kumar Khanna and Raj Kapoor (Karkardooma court).

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in)

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