'Treat traumatised victims with empathy'
The SC issued the request, citing the need to be sensitive and empathic while conduct trials against juveniles or treating children as victims.
The Supreme Court has asked the chief justice of each high court to ensure establishment of child-friendly courts in each district, saying inquiry and trials against juvenile delinquents as well as children as victims have to be conducted with a high degree of sensitivity, care and empathy.
The court said children too have fundamental rights and those have to be enforced strongly.
A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta noted that it is often said that the experience in our courts of a juvenile accused of an offence or the victim of a sexual offence is traumatic.
"We need to have some compassion towards them - even juveniles in conflict with law, since they are entitled to the presumption of innocence - and establishing child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts is perhaps one manner in which the justice delivery system can respond to ease their pain and suffering," the bench said.
The court further said another advantage of such child-friendly courts and vulnerable witness courts is that they can be used for trials in which adult women are victims of sexual offences since they too are often traumatised by the not-so-friendly setting and environment in our courts.
Dealing with a PIL by 'Sampuran Behura', the court issued a slew of directions, including for periodic audit, for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
Holding that the future of the country is at stake, the bench said, "no one has any doubt that it is time for the state to strongly and proactively acknowledge that even children in our country have fundamental rights and human rights and they need to be enforced equally strongly."
Among others, the court directed that all high courts should initiate suo motu proceedings to implement juvenile justice law, ensure engagement of special juvenile police units and child welfare officers, fill up all posts on national and state child rights commissions in a time-bound manner and compulsory registration of all child care institutions.