First child-friendly special court in Kerala to be opened today

A child-friendly court complete with an open play area and a cafeteria and facilities for children to give evidence in an informal atmosphere has come up in Kochi. The first-of-its-kind facility will be inaugurated on Friday.

K. Vinod Chandran, Judge, Kerala High Court, will inaugurate the facility at the District Court Complex at 9 am

Veena George, Minister for Health and Women and Child Welfare, will be the chief guest. Honey M. Varghese, Principal District and Sessions Judge, Ernakulam, will preside over the function.

K. Soman, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ernakulam, and G. Priyanka, Director, Women and Child Development department, Kerala, will attend.

The court has all the facilities, including video recording facility, for the recording of statement of a child as specified in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.

Section 36 (2) of the Act stipulates that the special court may record the statement of the child through videoconferencing or by utilizing a single-visibility mirror or curtains or any other device. Such provisions were incorporated in the Act to ensure that the child will not have to see the accused in the case while giving statements, legal sources pointed out.

Facilities for indoor games, separate toilets and dining spaces have been provided for children as well as their parents. The Act also specifies that the special courts trying the cases shall create a child-friendly atmosphere by allowing a family member or a guardian, a friend or a relative in whom the child has trust or confidence to be present in the court while statements are recorded. . Children can give statements in a relaxed manner and in an informal atmosphere sitting in the court, said a judicial officer who was involved in setting up the facility.

Besides the 28 special courts trying POCSO Act cases, 28 more will come up in the State shortly. The 15 courts in the state that are trying cases related to atrocities and sexual violence against women and children too try POCSO Act cases. Around 6,000 POCSO cases are pending in different courts of the state.

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