In a move towards making courtroom deposition less traumatic for child-victims, the Karnataka High Court set up an exclusive child-friendly courtroom in Bengaluru on Saturday, at the City Civil Court premises near the Mysore Bank circle. It will handle cases regarding sexual offences committed against minors.
This is the first time in Karnataka that a child-friendly court complying with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has been set up.
The specially-designed court has two halls, separated by a one-way glass shield, where the child will be insulated from seeing the accused.
This glass barrier has been placed with the intention of preventing the child from being manipulated or frightened by the accused, reports TOI.
According to the POCSO act, the authorities must uphold the rights and dignity of children during the trial while ensuring fast-paced proceedings and procedural compliance in a child sensitive and non-threatening atmosphere.
The court also provides the facility of video-conferencing between the court hall and the waiting room, in case the child refuses to depose before the court, or if the family wants to witness the trial from the waiting room.
Along with an elevator reserved for judges, the victim-children and their relatives, the facility has been equipped with toys and storybooks for children belonging to all age groups. It also has a common waiting room.
The initiative was spearheaded by the Karnataka High Court with a monetary support of ₹32 lakh from the department of women and child development, under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). It also plans on having child-friendly courts in districts across the state in a phased manner.
Child-friendly courts have been already functioning in cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad.